Australia’s New South Wales is in the grips of deadly bushfires that have devoured over 200 houses and have killed at least fifteen people in the recent days. The raging flames have led to apocalyptic scenes in and around the region with the daytime skies turning blood red and forcing the residents to flee to safer areas.

With Australia set to face New Zealand in Sydney for the third Test, cricket has taken the backseat with coach Justin Langer praying for rain during the contest. “There’s not much we can do. There are a lot of people who will keep on top of it, but the reality is this is a game of cricket,” Langer said. “In our game it’s an important game of cricket, but in terms of what’s happening around Australia, it will be the first time I’ll ever say this in my life, I hope it rains a bit during the Test because Sydney needs it. We’ll keep an eye on it, we’ll do as well as we can, but our hearts go out. We are so privileged with what we do, we get to play cricket, a lot of people are suffering.”

He added, “I don’t want to get sentimental, but we’ve talked about making Australians proud of us for the last 12-18 months, earning back respect, and we are feeling for the Australians out there who are suffering. It’s a really tough time, all we can do is out a smile on their face by playing some good cricket.”

Recalled New Zealand spinner Will Somerville expressed his sympathy for the affected people calling it ‘horrible’

“It’s bloody horrible, shocking, and it’s been going on for so long. I don’t know what more to say,” Somerville said. “There’s talk about smoke delaying this game but who cares, it doesn’t mean anything compared with what people are going through trying to fight those fires.”

In December, a Big Bash League match in Canberra was abandoned due to bush smokfire.