Warne, Ponting to play charity match for bushfire victims, Serena donates prize money

Doing their bit
Australian cricketing greats Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne will temporarily come out of retirement to play in a charity Twenty20 match next month. File photo: AFP
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Melbourne: Australian cricketing greats Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne will temporarily come out of retirement to play in a charity Twenty20 match next month as sports organisations and athletes seek ways to raise funds for bushfire relief.

Since October, thousands of Australians have faced repeat evacuations as huge and unpredictable fires scorched more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres), an area roughly the size of South Korea.

Current national coach Justin Langer will also play in the game on February 8 along with former captains Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist, Cricket Australia (CA) said in a statement on Sunday.

"I'm delighted to confirm the Bushfire Cricket Bash will be Cricket Australia's major fundraising initiative to support Australians impacted by the recent unprecedented bushfire emergency," CA Chief Executive Kevin Roberts said.

The match will be played on the same day as a women's Twenty20 international between Australia and India in Melbourne and the men's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash final.

The charity game would act as a curtain-raiser for the Big Bash match, with the venue not confirmed until the two teams for the final are determined.

Proud mama
Serena Williams with her daughter Alexis Olympia after winning the Auckland Classic. AFP

Also on Sunday, former world No. 1 tennis player Serena Williams said after she won her first title in nearly three years at the Auckland Classic that she would donate her prize money from the tournament.

She also donated her match-worn dresses to be auctioned to help raise money.

Serena won $42,000 for clinching the singles title over American compatriot Jessica Pegula.

"I've been playing in Australia for more than 20 years and it has been hard for me to be watching the news with all the fires," Serena said at the on-court presentation.

"So much has happened that I decided I'd donate all my dresses from my matches and all my prize money for a great cause. So thank you guys."

She was one of many domestic and international athletes, from cricketers and tennis players to Australian NBA players, to have pledged to support the fundraising for bushfire victims.

Warne raised more than A$1 million ($690,000) on Friday when he auctioned off his prized "baggy green" cap for bushfire relief efforts.

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