Pssst

Walkers, these blokes?

When Australia's Ashes team will be attempting to inflict more misery on England at the WACA Ground later this month, Dean Jones is leading a group of former stars seeking to make a big philanthropic impact on the other side of the country. Jones has enlisted former teammates such as Allan Border, Rodney Hogg and Glenn McGrath and renowned England cricketer and commentator-cum-charity walker Ian Botham for his nine-day MS Ashes Trek between Melbourne and Sydney. The event, to begin on December 10, was launched last week at the MCG, at a dinner and auction that generated about $75,000 for multiple sclerosis research. While Jones lacks the time to replicate his walk of a decade ago – 1252 kilometres in 11 days – he will anchor a string of lunches, dinners, golf days, school visits, and cricket clinics for about 3000 children in towns along the route. "MS was a good fit, not just because its initials match Melbourne to Sydney," Jones said. The father of two girls was attracted to the MS cause because the disease disproportionately affects women. "The charity dollar is pretty well sought after . . . the kids' charities tend to get a little bit more attention than these ones," he said. "It's just a bit of mateship, going around and pushing the good work of cricket, but also [increase] the knowledge about MS and, hopefully, one day find a cure." Jones said he was also appreciative of the sponsorship of sporting and business identity Gerry Ryan, through his Jayco Caravans company. "Without his involvement . . . we'd never be in the situation we are. He's unbelievably generous." - Jesse Hogan

Not the best picture to make a point

And, while Pssst is well aware of the troubles that can beset the production of a news story, the ICC's official website may wish it had its time again when selecting a photograph to illustrate a story - Nasir Aziz may have been cleared as a chucker but you wouldn't know it based on the picture above.

Mega-marathon man

For Botham the stop-start nature of the Ashes Trek, of which he will have part involvement, will represent a significant easing of physical demands compared with his now-customary treks. The 16 walks Botham has completed have raised more than £12 million for charity. He has not kept count on how many pairs of shoes he has gone through, but said: "You wouldn't want them afterwards because they all stink like buggery." Botham is grateful for the support of Nike for supplying his footwear, although he admitted his latest batch struggled to cope with the oppressive conditions on his most recent walk – 260 kilometres in eight days last month in Sri Lanka. But he said he had no thoughts of retirement. "I actually enjoy it. I've already got two more walks lined up, one next year and one the year after."

No rest for Punter

One of the other guests at the function was former Test captain Ricky Ponting, for whom it was another evening away from home since his move from Sydney to Melbourne earlier this year. "Not many!" was Ponting's response when asked how many nights he had spent at home since the move. "The first month was OK but then I've been on the road with my book and other stuff, functions and things, for the past five or six weeks. [Wife] Rianna thought this retirement stuff was probably going to be slightly different to what it's turned out to be. "I knew the book tour was pretty much going to be 60 days on the road, and then following the Test boys around – Adelaide next week and Perth the week after." Ponting, a tireless fund-raiser for the Ponting Foundation, said it was "brilliant" so many former players were eager to raise money for charities.

Numbers up

13 off the last over needed by Nepal in its Twenty20 World Championship qualifier, but a six and then a boundary in the first two balls by Sharad Vesawkar made it an easy task against Hong Kong. Nepal will now play in Bangladesh between March 16 and April 6.

2-13 April, 2014 will feature a new Australian men's surfing event added to the ASP World Tour. The event in Western Australia will be held at Surfer's Point in Prevelly after the season-opening Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast and before the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

No.51 in the world Bernard Tomic is set to name his new coach within the next fortnight. Australia's top-ranked male tennis player has been on the lookout for a coach to replace his father, John, who has been banned from the ATP Tour following his assault on Tomic's former training partner, Thomas Drouet.

Seb has fled

Veteran sports photographer Sebastian Costanzo has rung the final siren on a career that began with The Age in 1975. Having captured some of Australia's most iconic sporting images, now he can enjoy kicking his own goals.

What they should do ...

… is to let cricket teams choose their 12-man (or woman) side after the toss has been taken. Being able to choose your team after the winner of the toss has decided whether to bat or bowl would somewhat reduce the element of chance in deciding a match. - Rob Stewart, East Hawthorn

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