Gardner criticises scheduling of Australia game on January 26
Indigenous allrounder says, 'to me and my people it is a day of hurt and a day of mourning'
Indigenous allrounder Ashleigh Gardner has criticised Cricket Australia for scheduling a T20I against Pakistan on January 26.
Gardner, a Muruwari woman, said it was not appropriate for the national side to be playing on what is known as Australia Day - the day the first fleet arrived in 1788 - and that it is a day of "hurt and a day of mourning" for Indigenous people.
She indicated she will remain available for selection for the match - the second in the series against Pakistan - and will use her position to educate others on the history surrounding the day.
"As a proud Muruwari woman and reflecting on what Jan 26 means to me and my people it is a day of hurt and a day of mourning," Gardner posted on social media on Sunday morning.
"My culture is something I hold close to my heart and something I'm always so proud to speak about whenever asked. I also am fortunate enough to play cricket for a living which is something I dreamt of as a kid.
"Unfortunately this year the Australian women's cricket team has been scheduled to play a game on the 26th of Jan which certainly doesn't sit well with me as an individual but also all the people I'm representing."
As part of its Reconciliation Action Plan, CA consults with an Indigenous advisory committee that approved the decision to play the fixture on January 26.
Under an original schedule for the series, the match was scheduled for January 27 in Canberra as part of two games in the capital but when there were changes to venues after the cancellation of the men's ODIs against South Africa - which left CA wanted to redistribute fixtures - the date was amended when the game went to Hobart.
As part of the decision to play on January 26, the Australian team will perform a smoking ceremony before the match and embark on a walk around local mountain Kunanyi to learn about the local community.
They will also wear a special Indigenous kit designed by two Indigenous women and have consulted with Dr Janine Mohamed, a Narrunga Kaurna woman and community leader, to understand the impact of January 26 on First Australians.
"Cricket Australia acknowledges 26 January is a day that has multiple meanings and evokes mixed feelings in communities across our richly diverse nation," a CA statement read.
"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. 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.
"We will use the T20 International scheduled for 26 January as an opportunity to continue our ongoing education journey with First Nations people."
CA will not reference Australia Day in promotion around the match, a decision they first took in early 2021 during the BBL and which was criticised by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
"As a national team we have a platform to raise awareness about certain issues and I'm using this platform to hopefully help educate others on a journey to learn about the longest living culture in the world," Gardner wrote.
"For those who don't have a good understanding of what that day means it was the beginning of genocide, massacres and dispossession.
"When I take the field for this game I will certainly be reflecting and thinking about all of my ancestors and people's lives who changed from this day."
In 2018, Gardner was part of the Aboriginal XI squads who toured England to mark 150 years since the 1868 trip by the first Australian side in any sport to tour internationally.
She is one of four Indigenous cricketers to represent Australia at Test level alongside Faith Thomas, Jason Gillespie and Scott Boland.