The furore surrounding Australia Day continues to simmer in the sports world, with Australian cricket legend Jason Gillespie calling for a change of date.
The 47-year-old former fast bowler – who was Australia’s first Aboriginal-recognised cricketer – believes the national holiday marking the First Fleet landing in Sydney was not held on the correct date.
A veteran of 71 Tests, Gillespie is a highly regarded coach with the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia, and the Kamilaroi man is also an Aboriginal defender.
He took sides in the heated debate over whether Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26.
Jason Gillespie, pictured wearing an Adelaide Strikers Indigenous jersey, calls for changing the date of Australia Day
The Scorchers and Strikers play for a trophy named after Gillespie, which celebrates his Aboriginal heritage
“The day that all Australians can celebrate will be my favourite,” Gillespie said. News Corp Sunday.
What many people don’t realize is that history shows that Australia Day was not always celebrated on January 26th.
“Talks should continue to explore an alternative.”
His comments come after Ash Gardner posted a decision to remove the holiday as a world no. 1 All-rounder getting ready to play on Australia Day for the women’s national team against Pakistan.
Ash Gardner, a Muruwari woman, has become a fierce advocate for Indigenous Australians and enjoys painting traditional polka dots
The 25-year-old, whose mother and grandparents come from northwest NSW, will play on January 26 in the second match of the series, but said she was “not very good” with it.
“As a proud woman from Marwari and reflecting on what January 26 means to me and my people, it is a day of wounding and mourning,” she wrote on social media on Sunday.
For those who do not have a good understanding of what it means today, it was the beginning of genocide, pogroms, and dispossession.
Unfortunately, this year’s Australian women’s cricket team was scheduled to play a match on January 26th, which certainly does not suit me as an individual, but also all the people I represent.
“When I take the field for this game, I will surely think and think of the lives of all my ancestors and the peoples that have changed since the present day.”
Ash Gardner (right, pictured before the captaincy of the Governor-General’s XI against Pakistan earlier this month) was scathing at Cricket Australia’s decision to schedule a match on Australia Day
It was a combative response to Cricket Australia scheduling an international on Australia Day, although it is believed it was merely ensuring that the final match of the three-match series could be played on a Sunday.
Gardner’s opinion sparked a fierce response on social media.
Some praised her “courage” in standing up for her culture, while others criticized her for being “divisive” and not acknowledging how life has changed since the landing of the First Fleet and transformed Australia into the thriving multicultural society it is today.
The game’s governing body, which has introduced a range of pro-Indigenous policies and practices in recent years, acknowledged that January 26 could be a traumatic date for First Nations people.
Jason Gillespie (left), Shane Watson (center) and Mike Hussey (right) inspect World War I graves in France in 2005, just before the Ashes series
“Cricket Australia recognizes that January 26th is a day with multiple meanings and one that stirs mixed feelings in communities across our richly diverse country,” a statement from the organization read.
We respectfully acknowledge that it is a challenging day for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and for some people it is a day of mourning. Cricket Australia understands and appreciates Ash’s position, her leadership and the contributions of all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to cricket.
“We will use the T20 International scheduled for January 26 as an opportunity to continue our ongoing educational journey with First Nations people,” read a statement on Sunday.
Only two of Australia’s 464 male Test actors—Gillespie and cult hero Scott Boland—were Aborigines.
Jason Gillespie, who was photographed with Strikers star Rashid Khan earlier this month, is one of only two Aboriginal males to play Test cricket for Australia
Gillespie, who was photographed celebrating wickets in 1997, believes more needs to be done to encourage Indigenous Australians to play cricket
Cricket has often not done a good job of encouraging Indigenous Australians to play the game, although with a cultural shift and a desire not to feature the national holiday, this is changing very slowly.
Gillespie had previously been highly critical of this very fact.
The intention is there. Time will tell Fox Sports in 2021.
“One thing Laws Football has done well is help get in and out and push their case
In cricket there is a lot to be regulated, I think. I think a lot of that has to do with the good job football icons have done of reaching out to the indigenous people and getting the game at the forefront of their minds.
We know that AFL is a very popular sport for Aboriginal players, as is Rugby League. “I feel like these sports have been good at getting out into communities and schools,” Gillespie said.
Jason Gillespie, pictured playing against Bangladesh in 2006, said he didn’t understand why his Aboriginal heritage wasn’t celebrated more when he made his debut
The strange pace also bewildered because when he made his debut for Australia, nothing was done to celebrate his heritage and his status as the country’s first Aboriginal Test cricketer.
“I always found it strange that it took so long to come out because I always knew I was of Indigenous descent and all my colleagues knew that,” he said.
He never asked me (at first). It was weird. Then when it was posted, I couldn’t believe the amount of publicity it got.
I was so proud. My brother still works with the Aboriginal legal rights movement in South Australia, and my dad has been CEO for about a decade.
The Aboriginal (left) and Australian (right) flags, depicted on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, are a visual representation of the fierce debate over the history of the national holiday
There are no BBL matches on Australia Day, and despite a long history of big men’s internationals on public recess, only the Gardner and Aussie women will play this year when they take on Pakistan in Hobart.
All eyes will be on how Gardner handles the day, which she says celebrates “genocide and massacres”.