Updated: Jun 9
Cricket Australia's recent announcement of scheduling a men's Test match on Australia Day in 2024 has received criticism from Muruwari woman and Australian cricket star, Ashleigh Gardner. Gardner has previously raised this issue with Cricket Australia after a women's T20 match was played on January 26 this year.
With Cricket Australia releasing its Test schedule for the 2023-24 summer and revealing that Australia will take on the West Indies on Australia Day, Gardner has reiterated her criticism, stating that there is still someone like Scott Boland in and around that Test team who is of that cultural background. She asserts that the history of Australia is significant and should be respected.
Gardner asserts that January 26 is a day of mourning that doesn't have a good history and therefore, there shouldn't be cricket matches scheduled on that day. She views sport as a celebration and entertainment and believes that there shouldn't be anything that represents something quite morbid. Her views have been supported by her teammates despite playing in the T20 Australia Day game.
“There’s still someone like Scott Boland in and around that Test team who is of that cultural background. Not that it matters that an Aboriginal person is in those teams – it’s the history of this country,” said Gardner.
“I just don’t understand why this one day of the year – which is a day of mourning, which doesn’t have a very good history of what happened on that day, that there needs to be cricket." said Gardner.
In response to Gardner's criticism, Cricket Australia acknowledges January 26 as a day that has multiple meanings and evokes mixed feelings in communities across the country. Cricket Australia understands and acknowledges Gardner's position and appreciates her leadership and contributions to the game of cricket.
“We respectfully acknowledge it is a challenging day for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and for some people the day is regarded as a day of mourning,” CA said in the statement.
“Cricket Australia understands and acknowledges Ash’s position and appreciates her leadership and the contributions of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the game of cricket.”
Cricket Australia has also revealed a new-look schedule for cricket in the 2023-24 season, with Perth hosting the first Test of the men's summer against Pakistan, while Adelaide will instead host the West Indies in January. The decision to award Perth a mid-December Test against Pakistan comes after a run of COVID cancellations was followed by a disappointing crowd against West Indies last summer.
Officials have confirmed that Australia's commitments overseas until early December severely limited options, given the first Test cannot start until midway through the month. A Perth Test could only be at the very start or end of the summer, given its timezone would clash with the Big Bash League if played in the middle of January.
Cricket Australia has made efforts to acknowledge the significance of January 26, with the Indigenous Cricket Advisory Committee working closely with Cricket Australia to support and empower Indigenous Australians through cricket. Cricket Australia acknowledges the contributions of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the game of cricket and will continue to work towards promoting inclusivity and diversity within the sport.
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Photo Courtesy 7 News Australia
Courtesy 7 News Australia