Sydney: Australia opener David Warner on Thursday hailed the firefighters currently working day and night to douse the flames of the devastating bushfires, saying they are the real heroes.
With many parts of the country in the grip of devastating fires, the third Test between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) starting Friday will be played amid smoke from the nation's unfolding bushfire crisis.
Warner shared a horrific picture of a person with a dog watching the devastating forest fire and said: "I just saw this picture and I'm still in shock. When we go out to play tomorrow, not just the Australian team, but New Zealand as well, we never forget how privileged we are to live where we do and to do what we do."
"My heart, my family's hearts are with you. These fires are beyond words. To every firefighter, volunteer to every family, we are with you. You are the real heroes. You do us proud," he added.
Both Australian and New Zealand cricket teams will wear black armbands and pay tribute to fire and emergency services and personnel fighting fires during the anthem ceremony at the start of play of the Sydney Test.
"In our game, it's an important game of cricket, but in terms of what's happening around Australia ... it will be the first time I'll ever say this in my life, I hope it rains a bit during the Test because Sydney needs it," Australia head coach Justin Langer was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald.
"I hope it rains at night so we can keeping playing, but Sydney, like lots of Australia, needs the rain. Our hearts go out. We are so privileged with what we do. We get to play cricket, (but) a lot of people are suffering. I don't want to get sentimental, but we've talked about making Australians proud of us for the last 12 to 18 months, earning back respect, and we are feeling for the Australians out there who are suffering. It's a really tough time. All we can do is put a smile on their face by playing some good cricket," he added.
Australia's ODI series against New Zealand in March will be used to raise funds for bushfire ravaged towns. Cricket Australia has confirmed that money raised from the two matches at the SCG would go to the Red Cross.