Warne, Muralitharan banding together to help survivors
The world's greatest spinners, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan,
are set to stage an engrossing - and likely final - duel during
next week's tsunami charity match at the MCG. - By
Alex Brown SMH
Immediately after Warne emerged from limited-overs retirement to
represent the Steve Waugh-coached World XI, Muralitharan confirmed
he would be available for the Asian XI, to be named today.
Muralitharan, who had left the Sri Lankan coastal city of Galle
just 20 minutes before the tsunami struck, will make his international
comeback from shoulder surgery for the January 10 encounter if selected.
More importantly, though, the Sri Lankan off spinner will presumably
make his return to Australia in the name of charity, having previously
threatened to never play on these shores following years of crowd
The match will almost certainly be the last time Warne and Muralitharan
- sitting first and second on the all-time Test wicket list - face
off in international competition. Murali has announced his intention
to retire after the 2007 World Cup, while Warne will slip back into
one-day retirement mode after the charity match. Australia aren't
scheduled to play Sri Lanka in Tests until after the World Cup.
"It just shows that at times like these people unite despite
anything that may have happened in the past," Waugh said. "It's
great that we can get together and do something positive. It's just
been astounding to see how terrible the devastation has been, the
images of rotting corpses and parents looking for children. Hopefully
we can help."
International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed yesterday
lauded the enthusiasm of international players in embracing the
tsunami charity match concept, and was hopeful the game may usher
in a new period of international co-operation.
"There's been a lot said and a lot written about the Asian
divides, and this does have the potential to bring the cricket world
closer together," Speed said. "The response has been unanimous,
we must do what we can do. Any sort of rivalry, any sort of differences
between countries just disappears in times like this.
"It's great to see the players all coming out saying they
want to be involved in this. Everybody has been keen to co-operate.
I'm not entirely sure how hard it will be to co-ordinate until we
are finished. We shouldn't underestimate the difficulty in putting
on a major sporting event on 10 days' notice."
Such difficulties were evident yesterday, when West Indies coach
Bennett King expressed his hesitancy to release Brian Lara, Chris
Gayle and Dwayne Bravo - all of whom were selected in Waugh's World
XI - for the charity match. But after speaking to Cricket Australia
operations manager Michael Brown and Federation of International
Cricketers' Associations chief Tim May, King advised that the trio
would be made available.
The match is expected to raise millions for tsunami victims in
affected countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia,
through TV revenues, sponsorship, gate takings and a telethon to
be run concurrently with the match. A follow-up World-Asia match
will be staged in India or Sri Lanka next month.
"India and Sri Lanka are Test-playing countries, Malaysia
is a member of the ICC at the next level, and Thailand, the Maldives
and Indonesia are all members of the ICC," Speed said. "Cricket
has a focus on the Indian Ocean, many of our countries have a border
on the Indian Ocean. Cricket has a big focus within Asia."
Meanwhile, more than $71,000 was raised at the SCG yesterday for
victims of the tsunami.
(Australian unless stated)
Ricky Ponting (c)
Stephen Fleming (NZ)
Brian Lara (WI)
Chris Gayle (WI)
Chris Cairns (NZ)
Dwayne Bravo (WI)
Darren Gough (Eng)
Daniel Vettori (NZ)