Cricket’s big change to Australia Day bonanza
Cricket Australia will refer to next week's Big Bash extravaganza as 'January 26' rather than 'Australia Day', after consulting Indigenous leaders.
There are three BBL games on the public holiday and CA are committed to ensuring the experience doesn't change for the masses who have always enjoyed a day long synonymous with hosting big time cricket.
However, there was a push to make the day more inclusive and culturally safe for those Australians who consider January 26 as a day of mourning.
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Cricket Australia's First Nation's Advisory Committee which is co-chaired by CA board member and former international Mel Jones, made a series of recommendations which included not making reference to 'Australia Day.'
CA passed this recommendation onto the six BBL clubs playing that day, the Brisbane Heat, Perth Scorchers, Melbourne Renegades, Hobart Hurricanes, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, but there is no edict for them to drop the Australia Day terminology and they're free to promote the match as they see fit.
Some clubs may wear Indigenous strips and are being encouraged to participate in taking a knee before play or forming a barefoot circle, if that is something the teams - which include the Stars and Sixers - have been practising all season already.
Cricket Australia Diversity and Inclusion manager Adam Cassidy said the aim is to draw a balance between supporting Indigenous communities without making drastic moves like stopping cricket on January 26.
"Even referencing it as January 26, you'll see in CA marketing collateral, we'll reference it as that, but that's not to say some clubs might still call it Australia Day," said Cassidy.
"That's fine and that's their call.
"As a stretch reconciliation action plan organisation, we know we have a higher level of accountability to be leaders in this space.
"In many ways it forces our hand to be a bit braver in how we operate.
"Ultimately I think if we got it right, people who have traditionally come to the cricket on that day and have had a ripping day shouldn't notice anything different. It's really the cohort of people who aren't comfortable with the day that we hope we've made enough tweaks to make it a safe enough environment to also enjoy the day.
"It's not about changing the day for those who love it, it's about creating an environment others (can also enjoy)."
A meeting of the First Nations advisory committee back in early December had the January 26 issue as a key agenda item.
The majority of members are Aboriginal and Indigenous people, and all on the committee were on the same page in dropping the Australia Day terminology.
But the committee warned against more drastic action like a making a stand for change the date or not having any matches on January 26, with members conscious of making an already divisive day even more unsafe for those Australians already feeling vulnerable.
"Ultimately we can take their advice or leave it. The committee was very much on the same page about the day and their key bit of advice was the cricketing public probably wouldn't be ready for a statement like we're not ready to play cricket on that day," said Cassidy.
"It's a day of mourning for first nations people and a growing group of allies to First Nations people and it's a day when a large number of members of our community actually do feel unsafe on that day. So with that being the case, the last thing we wanted to do was go too hard in either direction.
"What we don't want to do is create a divisive environment where First Nations people are going to feel unsafe regardless of our stance.
"Even if we had a strong stance in favour of changing the date, that could actually create an environment that is not safe."
Originally published as Cricket's big change to Australia Day bonanza