No balls: Morrison hits out as cricket distances itself from Australia Day

Scott Morrison has given a big bash to Cricket Australia over its decision to drop Australia Day from official promotions after consulting with Indigenous advisers.

Jan 21, 2021, updated Jan 21, 2021
Big Bash promotions are avoiding the term Australia Day for their matches scheduled for January 26. (Photo: supplied)

Big Bash promotions are avoiding the term Australia Day for their matches scheduled for January 26. (Photo: supplied)

CA’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee recommended the move with three Big Bash League games to be played on January 26.

The prime minister hit out at the sport’s governing body over the decision, which CA argues aims to normalise conversations over the date’s history.

“A bit more focus on cricket and a little less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia,” Mr Morrison told Rockhampton radio 4RO on Thursday.

“I think that’s pretty ordinary.”

CA will refer to January 26 instead of Australia Day in its material.

Three BBL teams will also wear Indigenous jerseys in matches on or leading up to the day.

A barefoot circle, welcome to country and smoking ceremony will take place before some games.

Morrison said Cricket Australia should listen to any backlash from fans opposed to the decision and reverse it.

The moves form part of several recommendations by the sport’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee, with three games to be played on January 26.

“They thought it was pretty important to not remove cultural elements we have celebrated all season on a day like that,” Cricket Australia’s diversity and inclusion manager Adam Cassidy told AAP.

“Obviously it’s a bit of a challenge when you have matches being played on a day of mourning for a lot of people.”

CA is well aware the issue is a sensitive one and is desperate for it not to prove divisive, but for it to encourage open discussion.

“When you are a business operating under a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, it does come with responsibility and accountability to lead on key reconciliation issues,” Cassidy said.

“In an ideal world what we’re trying to do is create a safe and inclusive environment for everybody.”

Indigenous jerseys have been worn across different sports for some time, but it is the first time they will be used over the Australia Day period.

The move has been firmly approved by the game’s players, with Sydney Thunder’s Brendan Doggett championing the cause through his own Indigenous history.

“I hate conflict. So I am of the opinion if we can all merge forward together that’s ideal,” Doggett said.

“The way we’re going to do that is by starting conversations and talking about it and acknowledging the history of what’s happened.

“If we wear the kit and hopefully even start one conversation then that is a win.”

The Thunder have long referred to the public holiday as the January long weekend and have been a leader in multicultural initiatives through the Thunder Cup.

Doggett, meanwhile, has grown increasingly aware of his Indigenous history in recent years, after only discovering his mother’s family’s links to the Stolen Generation around five years ago.

That, too, has changed his perspective on the day, which he says is now far different to when he was a carpenter in Queensland.

And it’s with that perspective he believes it is possible to become more united, and that wearing the Indigenous jerseys could help prompt that.

“For me now it’s more of a day to just recognise and acknowledge the history and everything that has happened. And do it respectfully,” he said.

“It makes me want to make sure that everyone’s moving forward together.

“It’s a pretty dark past but if we can move forward, together and united then in my opinion that’s the best result.

-AAP, additional reporting ABC

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