Cricket should consider avoiding January 26: Khawaja

·3-min read
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Usman Khawaja says Cricket Australia should consider avoiding matches on January 26 if it is the wish of Indigenous players, after this summer's Gabba Test was scheduled for the public holiday.

Star Indigenous women's allrounder Ashleigh Gardner has lamented the decision to schedule the men's Gabba day-night Test against West Indies to start on January 25, with the second day's play on Australia Day.

Khawaja said playing Test cricket on January 26, though he believed the date of Australia Day should be changed, was not a problem for him personally but he preferred to defer to Indigenous Australians.

"I can only speak for myself. I don't have an issue with it," he told reporters.

"But if First Nations people and if communities do, then I think we need to explore that and talk about it."

Gardner previously condemned the scheduling of a women's T20 international against Pakistan on January 26 this year.

The 26-year-old said it could put Indigenous men's player Scott Boland in a similarly uncomfortable position and noted it would be difficult to get an elder to deliver a Welcome to Country.

"I said my opinion (this year) and I told the people that it mattered to. For this to happen again but just to the men's side … I guess there's certainly disappointment around it," Gardner told News Corp.

"I just don't understand why this one day of the year – which is a day of mourning, which doesn't have a very good history of what happened on that day, that there needs to be cricket.

"I see sport as a celebration and entertainment and an event you want to go to. Why does there need to be something that represents something that's quite morbid.

"It's probably not overly appropriate."

Cricket Australia scheduling manager Peter Roach cited a tight summer schedule and noted the governing body's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee (NATSICAC) had been consulted and supported the schedule.

"We really respect Ash's opinion and understand for many Australians and Indigenous Australians, especially that that's a day that has different meanings," he told reporters.

"What we do know is that we've got a really tight schedule where we need to fit lots of games in and we make those decisions with all those factors taken into account and try to make it work for us.

"We consult widely on this to see when we do play those games, especially around the 26th of January and through our own internal group called NATSICAC.

"We asked their opinion and seek their feedback and we thought all things being considered starting on the 25th of January was an appropriate time."

Australian women's team captain Meg Lanning reiterated her support for Gardner and her stance but stressed scheduling decisions were out of the players' hands.

Lanning said discussions and an education process were ongoing regarding formulating a public position on the Indigenous voice to parliament, but expected that to be settled "sometime within the next month or so".