'Sea of support': Australian cricket pays 'spine-tingling' tribute to firefighters

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

The SCG Test has played host to a brilliant minute’s applause in honour of the firefighters battling the deadly bushfires engulfing Australia.

Australian and New Zealand players were wearing black armbands on Friday for the opening day of the third Test in Sydney, while firefighters were honoured in a spine-tingling pre-match ceremony.

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The whole crowd rose to its feet in applause as the John Corry - deputy captain of the Ku-Ring-Gai Bushfire Brigade - walked out onto the field, clapping for a whole minute.

Players and fans paid tribute to the firefighters. Image: Getty

The sea of support for our firefighters battling it out across the country was described as ‘spine-tingling’.

“It was a speechless moment,” Aussie cricketer Trent Copeland said in commentary for Channel 7.

“It was so special to be here for that.”

Cricket Australia pitches in to help

Tim Paine hopes the SCG Test provides a distraction for Australians engrossed in the bushfire crisis, having thanked the "real heroes of this summer" after his organisation unveiled a range of initiatives.

Smoke threatens to interrupt play during the third trans-Tasman Test, but far more serious matters have occupied the thoughts of players from both sides in recent days.

A rising national death toll, mass evacuations, apocalyptic scenes of destruction, and the prospect of catastrophic fire conditions in several areas on the weekend form part of an incredibly bleak picture.

Cricket Australia (CA) is set to throw open the gates to firefighters during two SCG one-dayers in March, when that trans-Tasman series will double as a fundraising drive.

CA confirmed on Thursday that money raised in March would go to the Red Cross to support those affected by fires, while the governing body is also currently auctioning signed playing shirts from the Boxing Day Test.

John Corry looks on as players and crowd stand and applaud the efforts of firefighters. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

"Our thoughts certainly go out to the people that have been affected by it. It's got worse again overnight and the firefighters have been the real heroes of this summer," Paine told reporters.

"They're taking on some extreme risk and putting themselves in some pretty ordinary situations. We certainly thank them on behalf of our team and our wishes are with people currently affected."

Paine hoped his side could "provide a distraction for people and a bit of happiness".

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts noted while the SCG Test would finish next week, his organisation's support for bushfire relief would continue leading up to ODIs at the SCG on March 13 and 15.

"Hopefully the fires are well and truly gone by then and they (firefighters and emergency personnel) have got some spare time on their hands to come to those one-day internationals free of charge," Roberts said.

The McGrath Foundation will remain as the chief charity partner for the SCG Test, as has been the case since 2009.

with AAP