Ashleigh Gardner faults Australia Day match vs. Pakistan

SYDNEY (AP) — An indigenous Australian member of the Australian national women’s cricket team has condemned a decision to play a Twenty20 international against Pakistan on Australia’s national day.

The holiday on Jan. 26 commemorates the arrival in 1788 of the “first fleet” which brought first white settlers to Australia.

But some indigenous Australians commemorate the day as Invasion Day or Colonization Day because the arrivals set in motion the seizure of lands and the diminution of the indigenous Australian culture.

Ashleigh Gardner who is the second indigenous Australian woman to play test cricket for Australia said Jan. 26 is a “day of hurt and a day of mourning” for her people. In a tweet Gardner said playing a match on the day "certainly doesn’t sit well with me as an individual but also all the people I’m representing.

“For those who don’t have a good understanding of what that day means it was the beginning of genocide, massacres and dispossession,” she said. “When I take the field for this game I will certainly be reflecting and thinking about all of my ancestors and peoples’ lives who changed from this day.”

Cricket Australia has yet to confirm details of the match but the Australian Associated Press reported the Australian players will likely perform a barefoot ceremony before the match and wear an indigenous-themed uniform.

In 2021 Cricket Australia became the first Australian national sports body to phase out the use of the term Australia Day. Then Prime Minister Scott Morrison was highly critical of the move.

The Australian women last played on Jan. 26 in 2016.

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