New Zealand targets a million dollars for tsunami relief

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Christchurch:New Zealand Cricket (NZC) hopes to donate more than one million New Zealand (698,000 US) dollars to tsunami relief from the World XI series starting here as Sri Lanka's stars appealed for more assistance for their stricken country.

The aim is to fund the building of a new village, New Zealand Cricket Players Association executive manager Heath Mills said.

"The figure we'd like to focus on is reaching the magic million mark. That'd be fantastic," said Mills, who helped organise the series with his Australian and English counterparts Tim May and Richard Bevan.

"The Cricket Aid programme in Sri Lanka is looking to build four villages, and each village is costing around 500,000 US dollars. So one million NZ dollars could build a village. That'd be great as a target objective."

Four of Sri Lanka's highest profile players -- Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara -- arrived here on Thursday for the three match series which has already drawn 700,000 dollars worth of corporate support.

Jayasuriya was perhaps the most directly affected of the Sri Lanka team, with his mother narrowly surviving after she was swept away by floodwaters when he was on tour in New Zealand.

"When I saw my mother first at the hospital then went back to Matara my home town and saw my father and brother and the children, they had just escaped but all these other people had died and there were no houses left.

"It's very important for us, we need to help those people in our country. The situation is very bad at the moment. We have to rebuild our nation really fast."

Muralitharan, who will team up with Shane Warne -- the only player ahead of him on the all-time Test wicket-taking list -- had no hesitation in becoming available for the series after a six month injury layoff due to shoulder surgery.

He has been actively involved in the relief effort, travelling to the worst hit areas to hand out supplies and meet affected families.

"It was devastating and we didn't think it could hit us so badly," he said.

"We are trying to help as much as we can. In bad or good times, people have been with us when we were playing cricket. We have to pay that back, it is a time we can help the people."

All donations throughout the series will be split between Sri Lanka Cricket and World Vision.

The second match will be played in Wellington on Monday, with the final game in Hamilton on Wednesday.

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