Australias cricketers changed their preparation schedule ahead of the series-deciding limited-overs international against New Zealand in Brisbane so that they could spend several hours on Wednesday at the Victorian town of Whittlesea helping local people come to terms with the devastation.
Fast bowler Nathan Bracken,who celebrated his 100th cap in Tuesdays win,was shaken after the visit. You can watch the reports and think you have an understanding of whats going on, Bracken said. But its not until people are standing in front of you telling their stories that it really hits you.
There are people who have spent their whole lives working for their home,and then saw it all taken away in 30 minutes, Bracken said. I was speaking to one lady who had lost her father,and she burst out in tears. All I could do was give her a hug. There is just a lot of people hurting, he said.
Fast bowler Peter Siddle,who has lived in the Gippsland area heavily impacted by the fires and whose brother had two friends among those killed,spent his time during Tuesdays win over New Zealand walking around the Adelaide Oval with a bucket collecting donations from fans.
The match helped raise an estimated 6 million Australian dollars ($3.9 million) to aid relief and recovery efforts,including contributions from major sponsors,gate receipts and player donations.
Skipper Ricky Ponting said his team wanted to do whatever it could to help the fire victims. Weve decided as a group that were going to go out to Whittlesea and spend a few hours there to try and make things a fraction easier if we can, Ponting said. We want to get in and help out where we can.