Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne are planning to recruit big names in sport and from movies and music to join their star-studded teams in Cricket Australia’s bushfire relief match.
The two Australian legends will come out of retirement to captain the sides in the Bushfire Cricket Bash, which will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Big Bash League final on February 8.
The matches will form part of a triple header of cricket on the same day, with Australia to host India in a women’s T20 international in Melbourne.
Australia coach Justin Langer and fellow former national team stars Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shane Watson, Alex Blackwell and Michael Clarke are already confirmed starters for the Bushfire Cricket Bash.
Steve Waugh and former Australian women’s ace Mel Jones will have non-playing roles in the game.
“Hopefully a few (more) big names will get involved as well,” Warne said on Sunday.
“From all sorts, whether it be music, film, TV or sports from different codes.
“We’re trying to put together an eclectic group, a diverse group that people will identify with.”
Ponting is hoping his former teammate’s extensive contact list of big-names will come in useful, joking Warne has “most of them on speed-dial”.
International cricket legends Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni are on the wishlist.
“All those guys who have been out here and travelled with different countries have had great times in Australia, whether it’s playing here or getting out and about,” Ponting said.
“It sometimes can be amazing what people will do to try and help others out in difficult times.”
The venue will only be decided when the host of the BBL is confirmed, but the MCG looms as a likely option.
Last year’s runners-up the Melbourne Stars are top of the BBL ladder, ahead of the Sydney Sixers, after eight games.
It’s been 15 years since Ponting and Warne played in the charity game at the MCG following the horror 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, where a World XI took on an Asian XI.
“I’m actually quite excited if it is here because one more game at the MCG would be nice,” Ponting said.
“If we could replicate something like that (Tsunami match) for this game, that would be amazing.”
All profits and funds raised during all three games on the day will go towards the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.
CA employees, including state and territory associations, have been funded by chief executives to be able to volunteer up to three days supporting recovery efforts in bushfire-affected areas.
“We’ve already seen the cricket community respond en masse to raise funds for communities impacted by the fires at a national, state and community level,” CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said.
“Australian cricket recognises the significant impact the fires have had to date on community sporting facilities across the country.”