Cricket to unite nation following historic sweep
AS Australia confirmed their re-emergence as a world force with a brutal demolition of New Zealand, cricket officials moved to lock in a massive celebrity-driven fundraising game for the bushfire appeal.
David Warner smashed the 24th century of his Test career and Nathan Lyon claimed a 10-wicket haul to instigate another humiliating Kiwi collapse and further demonstrate the fact Australian cricket is well and truly back in business.
Australia has decimated Pakistan and New Zealand in all five Tests this summer inside four days, but as the final blistering touches were put on an emphatic 279-run triumph at the SCG, Cricket Australia officials were in the background looking at the bigger picture.
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Following on from the game Australia held in 1967 for the Tasmanian bushfires and 1983 for the Ash Wednesday appeal, cricket will once again stage a blockbuster event to unite the nation.
Details of what shape the landmark match might take are yet to be finalised and a host venue is also yet to be confirmed - although the SCG, MCG or Canberra would appear the leading contenders given it's in NSW, Victoria and the ACT where the most heartache has been suffered.
But while several options are still being discussed by CA officials about who might play in the match - current international and BBL players, women's stars, ex-greats, or big names from other sports - The Daily Telegraph understands a major event will take place over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, Lyon completed a $10,000 donation of his own after the Australian fast bowlers pledged a $1000 to the bushfire appeal for every wicket taken, and the Test spinner took half of the 20 wickets needed to send New Zealand packing.
It was the third 10-wicket haul of Lyon's career, as Marnus Labuschagne was named man-of-the-series, just reward for his extraordinary domination of the summer with four centuries from five Tests.
Mitchell Starc also claimed three wickets to complete his brilliant summer of redemption, while James Pattinson put his claim in for catch of the summer - after he covered a mile of ground to hang onto a spectacularly athletic diving effort to hand Lyon his ninth victim.
Earlier, Warner joined one of his original mentors Greg Chappell to post his 24th Test century, with his 111 not out before a Tim Paine declaration set a broken New Zealand an impossible 417 to win at the SCG.
The day wasn't without its controversy, with 5 runs added to New Zealand's first innings total as penalty for Labuschagne and Warner being ruled to have deliberately run on the pitch.
Labuschagne was given a warning for running on the pitch, and then umpire Aleem Dar was ruthless in punishing the home side when he felt Warner had also erred.
Umpires were clearly concerned that the Australian pair were deliberately trying to rough up the surface with their spikes to aid Lyon in the final innings, but Warner remonstrated his innocence with Aleem and commentators were also left stunned by the harshness of the penalty.
New Zealand didn't have to show much muscle to force the match into a fifth day, but their final capitulation was indicative of their disappointing performance this summer.
Australia now awaits next summer's marquee Test assignment against world No.1 team India - which will serve as a true marker of where they're at.
But in the interim, Paine will lead a team to Bangladesh in June which has earned the right to now feel they're close to regaining their superpower reputation.
Australia's players have been mindful of the bigger picture of the bushfire appeal throughout this Test, and officials are set to announce a special charity match.
"I'd love to think we could do something along those lines. We've all got great memories of the role those sorts of events have played in situations of disaster and tragedy in the past," said CA chief, Kevin Roberts on SEN earlier in the Test.
"We're very open to other initiatives which could include celebrity matches."