Indigenous Big Bash star Dan Christian has added his voice to the growing chorus of cricketers criticising Australia Day.
The Sydney Sixers all-rounder praised Australia star Ashleigh Gardner for using her platform as ‘Australian cricketer and proud Aboriginal woman, to promote conversation’ over the meaning of the national holiday.
Writing on Twitter, Christian called on MPs to ‘make meaningful improvements to the systemic and cyclical issues affecting our people’ and urge them to start by ‘changing the date’.
Dan Christian (left) has added his voice to the growing chorus of cricketers criticising the Australia Day national holiday
On Sunday, Gardner slammed January 26 – the date the First Fleet arrived in Sydney – as a day celebrating ‘genocide, massacres and dispossession’ and noted playing on Australia Day did not sit well with her.
Gardner and her teammates are due to play Pakistan in Hobart on Thursday in the second T20 of their three-match series.
Originally scheduled for January 27 in Canberra, but was switched to Hobart on January 26 after South Africa abandoned their men’s ODI series.
And the number one ranked T20 all-rounder in the world, whose mother and ancestors come from north-western New South Wales, said she will be reflecting on what the day means to her ancestors when she takes the field.
Christian praised Australia star Ashleigh Gardner for speaking out on the issue
‘As a proud Muruwari woman and reflecting on what January 26 means to me and my people, it is a day of hurt and mourning,’ she posted on social media.
‘My culture is something I hold close to my heart […] and I’m always so proud to speak about whenever asked.
‘For those who don’t have a good understanding of what the day means, it was the beginning of genocide, massacres and dispossession.’
Gardner received full support from captain Meg Lanning, who said the team was keen to use their platforms to educate Australians on the issue.
Gardner said on Sunday she wasn’t comfortable with playing on January 26
The Aussie star is a proud Muruwari woman, whose mother and ancestors come from north-western New South Wales and has spoken out against Australia Day
‘Something we would like to do is acknowledge the sadness and grief that day brings for First Nations people,’ she said.
‘We’re going to try to use the opportunity we have to educate ourselves and try to create a better understanding of what it means and their culture.’
Aussie legend Jason Gillespie also backed Gardner’s comments.
A veteran of 71 Tests, Gillespie is now a highly regarded coach with the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia, and the Kamilaroi man is also an advocate for Indigenous people.
Former Australia Test great Jason Gillespie has also publicly backed Gardner
‘A day in which all Australians can celebrate would be my preference,’ Gillespie, who was the first Indigenous male Test player, told News Corp on Sunday.
‘What a lot of people don’t realise is that history shows Australia Day has not always been celebrated on January 26.
‘The conversations need to continue to explore an alternative.’
Cricket Australia has introduced a raft of pro-Indigenous policies and practices in recent years and acknowledged January 26 could be a date that is traumatic to First Nations people.
Australia captain Meg Lanning (middle) said the team was united in support of Gardner, who on Sunday criticised Australia Day as the ‘beginning of genocide’
‘Cricket Australia acknowledges 26 January is a day that has multiple meanings and evokes mixed feelings in communities across our richly diverse nation,’ it said in a statement.
In a move orchestrated by the players, Australia will wear an Indigenous jersey in the match against Pakistan and their socks and wristbands will also feature Indigenous colours and motifs.
Australia will also wear a First Nation jersey at the T20 World Cup in South Africa next month and Indigenous elements have become a staple of the Big Bash this season.
Meanwhile, before each home series the Australian side – of both genders – does a Barefoot Circle with their opponents to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land.