SCG tribute planned, ODIs to raise funds

Rob Forsaith and Scott Bailey
Players will don black armbands for the trans-Tasman SCG Test as the bushfire crisis continues

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, starting in Sydney on Friday, 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.

Australia and New Zealand cricketers will don black armbands on Friday, when there will be a minute's applause pre-Test as a show of gratitude towards those battling bushfires around the country.

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.

"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.