With the three-Test series between Australia and New Zealand decided, players from both teams will momentarily turn their attention away from the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground and to the deadly wildfires around the country.
Black armbands will be worn from the first day of the Test on Friday as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives in the tragic fires, while emergency services personnel will be honored during the pre-match ceremony with a minute of applause.
Cricket Australia also announced that two one-day international matches between Australia and New Zealand at the S.C.G. in March will raise funds for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to help those affected by the fires.
Authorities on Thursday said seven people had died since Monday and 15 this fire season and nearly 400 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales state. The situation could worsen this weekend when smoke could affect the second day of the test.
The worst of the blazes are in Victoria state’s east and on the New South Wales south coast, where thousands of people in isolated communities are ringed by fire and military helicopters have been deployed to reach them. There is also a catastrophic fire warning in Western Australia, while Tasmania and Queensland states have also been badly affected over the past several months.
Smoke from the southern New South Wales fires threatens to have play stopped at Sydney if it becomes too unhealthy or threatens vision. A domestic Twenty20 cricket match was called off in Canberra last month because of smoke haze and unhealthy conditions for the players.