Cricket Australia has confirmed that it will not use the term “Australia Day” during the second day of the West Indies Test at Brisbane’s Gabba this Friday. However, the Cricket Australia boss seems a bit unsure.
Things got a bit awkward on Ben Fordham Live this morning when the host began grilling Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley, asking him, “What day is it on Friday?”. Hockley stumbled and backtracked several times before awkwardly acknowledging the day as a “national holiday”.
When asked if Cricket Australia would be recognising Australia Day, Hockley said that they would be recognising that the day means different things to different people but welcomed audiences to bring Australian flags to cheer on the Aussie team.
“For some, including our elite playing group, it’s not a day of celebration, and we are seeking to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible,” Hockley said.
Clearly frustrated, Fordham eventually urged Hockley to give a straight, yes or no answer as to whether the words “Australia Day” would be heard over the loudspeaker at the Gabba on Friday. After much back and forth, Hockley finally answered, “I don’t believe so”.
Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said that the sporting organisation will not necessarily be boycotting the controversial holiday but instead promoting a more inclusive environment. Hockley insists that Cricket Australia is continuing to take a consistent and neutral approach. “We’re not in any way boycotting Australia Day; we want to play cricket on Australia Day,” Hockley told 2GB’s Ben Fordham this morning. “We’re just mindful that it means different things to different people, and we’re respectful, and we just want everyone to feel welcome”.
Fordham went on to compare the situation to someone wanting to celebrate Christmas without the mention of Santa Claus, leading to a very long, very awkward pause from Hockley in which all that could be heard was the sound of breathing.
The plan to pull mentions of Australia Day on the second day of the test has been met with retaliation with many demanding that politics and sport be kept seperate. “Now Cricket Australia joins in on the Australia day wokefest”, one X (formerly twitter) user said. “Cricket Australia are wankers,” another said.
Now Cricket Australia joins in on the Australia day wokefest! The term Australia Day will not be used on January 26 & instead there will be a bloody welcome to country & a “barefoot ceremony” whatever the heck that is. Seriously, this is a joke. Keep politics out of sport! pic.twitter.com/KQXdwCk1Iu
— Francynancy (@FranMooMoo) January 21, 2024
Yesterday, NSW Premier Chris Minns called the plan strange, calling for the organisation to mark the day. “We should, right now, be trying to pull each other together, and this is the day that we’ve set aside to celebrate what it means to live in the greatest country on Earth,” he said.
Cricket Australia is just the latest in a long list of organisations to receive backlash off the back of announcements surrounding the holiday. Woolworths‘ plan to remove Australia Day merchandise off its shelves has resulted in several conservative politicians calling for a boycott. Aldi and Kmart have also jumped on board, announcing they would not be stocking any Australia Day-specific merchandise.
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