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Indigenous cricket player Ashleigh Gardner faults Australia Day match

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.

Ashleigh Gardner, who is the second indigenous Australian woman to play test cricket for Australia, said on Sunday that January 26 is a “day of hurt and a day of mourning” for her people.

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

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

“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.

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‘Doesn’t sit well’

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.”

“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 the details of the match.

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 January 26 in 2016.

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