Warne, Murali team up for World XI against Kiwis

Agence France Presse

Wellington, January 11:

Cricket’s two greatest wicket takers, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, are to team up for a one-day series between New Zealand and a World XI to raise funds for Asian tsunami relief efforts, New Zealand Cricket said on Tuesday.

The three matches later this month were hastily arranged after Sri Lanka cancelled their tour of New Zealand in December after the tsunamis devastated their homeland.

In addition to releasing players for the World XI, Sri Lanka will return to New Zealand in April to play the two Test matches originally scheduled for this month, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Martin Snedden said.

The one-day series has been arranged in conjunction with the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations so the combined team will be known as the FICA World XI.

It will be captained by Australian spin bowler Warne, who will play all three matches along with Sri Lanka’s Muralitharan, while the rest of the line up will vary slightly depending on player availability for each game.

Retired South African Jonty Rhodes will be player coach with Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya as vice-captain. Ten players available for all three matches are Warne, Muralitharan, Jayasuriya, Rhodes, retired Zimababwe wicketkeeper-batsman Andy Flower, retired England batsman Graeme Hick, Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara, Australian allrounder Ian Harvey, Zimbabwe pace bowler Heath Streak and Sri Lankan pace bowler Chaminda Vaas.

Available for the first two games are England batsman Nick Knight and South African allrounder Lance Klusener, while games two and three could involve Australian opening batsman Matthew Elliot and Australian pace bowler Andy Bichel. Former Australian one-day specialist Michael Bevan and Australia’s opening batsman Justin Langer are available for the third match only. Snedden said funds raised from the tour would be distributed to Sri Lanka Cricket’s “Cricket-Aid” programme and to World Vision. Cricket Australia had rescheduled one round of their domestic competition to free up players for the world team.

A charity match in Melbourne on Monday between a Rest of the World XI and an Asia XI raised $11 million for tsunami relief efforts.