Australia womens skipper Meg Lanning stated the players are united within for their support of Ashleigh Gardner after the off-spin all-rounder criticised Cricket Australia (CA) for scheduling second T20I against Pakistan on January 26, citing it being an uncomfortable scenario for the Indigenous community.
Ashleigh, a Muruwari woman hailing from the Indigenous community, said through her social media accounts on Sunday that it was not appropriate for Australia to be playing the second T20I against Pakistan at Hobart on January 26.
January 26 is marked as the day the first fleet arrived in Australia in 1788, which is seen as a “day of hurt and a day of mourning” for Indigenous Australians.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions as a group around the game. We’re fully supportive of Ash and her stance and her feelings and views around it. It’s something that we can’t control in terms of the scheduling and playing on that day, but something that we would like to do is just acknowledge the sadness and grief that day does bring for First Nations people.
“Secondly, we’re going to try and use the opportunity that we have to educate ourselves, to try and create a better understanding of what it means and their culture, and that’s what we’re using this opportunity to do. It’s a really united front within the group and as I said, we really support Ash and her feelings around the day,” Meg told reporters on Monday.
Meg added that the side is supporting Ashleigh, who was also subjected to online abuse following her post over criticism of scheduling the second T20I. “She’s going pretty well. Putting out her views and feelings on the issue is a very brave step, I think, and she’s been a really great leader within our group, but also in the community on the issues that First Nations people face.”
“It can be pretty daunting, sometimes getting some of the feedback that she gets, but we’re very supportive of her and we’re hundred per cent behind her.”
Ashleigh, 25, has been a constant presence in the national side since her debut in 2017, becoming only the second Indigenous woman to play for Australia. “Ash has really matured in particular over the last few years into a leader within our group. Her cricket knowledge is incredible. Her ability to read the game is very good as well.”
“She’s a leader within our team and particularly, with First Nations people and her culture, she has been a massive leader in the community too.”