Scott Boland, an accomplished Australian pace bowler and a proud Indigenous man, has expressed his willingness to play Test cricket on January 26. However, he believes it is crucial to engage in future discussions regarding the scheduling of matches on a day that he believes is not "inclusive of everyone." Boland's sentiments align with the growing chorus of voices calling for a reconsideration of Australia Day, as it represents a day of mourning for many Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals alike.
In a recent interview with a prominent publication, Boland reiterated that January 26 does not hold the same significance for all Australians and acknowledged the need for a broader discussion on the matter. Although he understands that players do not have the authority to determine the match schedule, he emphasized that he personally does not view January 26 as a day for celebration. With the Test schedule undergoing changes this summer due to the World Cup, Boland hopes that Cricket Australia will devise a different plan moving forward, taking into account the concerns raised by various stakeholders.
“It’s a day of mourning for a lot of people. I’m not sure January 26 is the day that is inclusive of everyone,” Boland, Australia’s only active male Indigenous international cricketer, told this masthead. “Maybe it’s a bit of a broader discussion for other people. “Unfortunately it’s not for players to decide when we play. CA sorts out the schedule."
“I still think I’d play. I don’t think it’s a day to celebrate. The Test schedule this summer is a bit different to the last few years, given it’s been pushed back due to the [50-over] World Cup. I’m sure moving forward Cricket Australia … might set out a different plan going forward.”
Ash Gardner, an esteemed Australian women's cricket star, had earlier expressed her disappointment with the decision to hold international cricket matches on January 26. She underscored the historical significance of the day, which marks the beginning of genocide, massacres, and dispossession, particularly for First Nations individuals. Gardner questioned the necessity of holding cricket events on a day that carries such a painful legacy.
“I guess there’s certainly disappointment around it,” Gardner said.
“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.
The sentiments expressed by Boland and Gardner shed light on the need for careful consideration and inclusivity when scheduling cricket matches. While Boland remains open to playing on January 26, he advocates for a broader understanding and respect for the diverse perspectives regarding this contentious issue. As discussions around Australia Day continue to gain momentum, it is imperative that all stakeholders, including players like Boland, have an opportunity to contribute their insights and shape a future schedule that embraces inclusivity and acknowledges the historical significance of this particular day.
The willingness of athletes like Scott Boland and Ash Gardner to raise these important discussions demonstrates the growing awareness and sensitivity within the sport industry towards cultural issues. By encouraging open dialogue and considering diverse perspectives, the sport industry can play a role in fostering understanding, unity, and respect among all Australians. Moving forward, it is hoped that Cricket Australia and other sporting bodies will actively engage with players and stakeholders to create a more inclusive and reflective approach to scheduling, taking into account the significance of Australia Day for all Australians.
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Photo Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald
Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald