- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers
Cricket players will wear black armbands on the first day of the test as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives in the tragic Australian wildfires.
With the three-test series between Australia and New Zealand decided, players from both teams will momentarily turn their attention away from the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground and to the deadly wildfires around the country.
Emergency services personnel will be honoured during the pre-match ceremony on Friday with a minute of applause.
Cricket Australia also announced that two one-day international matches between Australia and New Zealand at the S.C.G. in March will raise funds for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to help those affected by the fires.
The move comes after Australia's Prime Minister was confronted by angry residents during a visit to a fire-ravaged town, with locals calling him an "idiot" and telling him to "p*** off".
Scott Morrison visited the town of Cobargo in New South Wales (NSW) where a father and son died on Monday as bushfires raged in the area.
Locals criticised Mr Morrison for the lack of equipment provided to deal with the fires in the town.
Later Thursday, Australian tennis players in the ATP Cup pledged varying amounts to bushfire appeals for each ace they hit during the inaugural tournament and later events Down Under, including the Australian Open beginning January 20th.
Nick Kyrgios, who first broached the idea in a tweet on Wednesday and suggested Tennis Australia do the same, pledged 200 Australian dollars per ace, with teammates Alex de Minaur and John Millman also contributing.
Tennis Australia said Thursday it planned to announce some fund-raising initiatives for the bushfire victims at the ATP Cup and at the Australian Open.
Authorities on Thursday said seven people had died since Monday — and 15 this fire season — and nearly 400 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales state. The situation could worsen this weekend, when smoke could affect the second day of the test.
The worst of the blazes are in Victoria state’s east and on the New South Wales south coast, where thousands of people in isolated communities are ringed by fire and military helicopters have been deployed to reach them. There is also a “catastrophic” fire warning in Western Australia, while Tasmania and Queensland states have also been badly affected over the past several months.
Smoke from the southern New South Wales fires threatens to have play stopped at Sydney if it becomes too unhealthy or threatens vision. A domestic Twenty20 cricket match was called off in Canberra last month because of smoke haze and unhealthy conditions for the players.
Several Sydney grade cricket matches have already been affected, with paramedics called to at least one match to treat two non-asthmatic players.
The decision on whether to stop play at the test match would rest with ICC match referee Richie Richardson and the umpires as they closely monitor air quality and visibility.