Cricket unveils new reconciliation plan

There will also be the launch of an annual international match with either the national men’s or women’s teams, commemorating the achievements of the 1868 team.

CA chairman Earl Eddings said the action plan was a significant development, and had involved consultation with several parties.

“Our RAP [reconciliation action plan] vision, Cricket Connecting Country, gives us the mandate to create real and lasting change for us to do more and be better. In this stretch RAP, we have set more ambitious targets, committed to building relationships to grow the game among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and pledged to ensure the Australian cricket family understands, recognises and respects the planet’s oldest living cultures,” he said in the report.

The Aboriginal cricket team who played the Melbourne Cricket Club on Boxing Day 1866. Credit:National Museum of Australia

“Australian cricket’s history suggests that a spirit of reconciliation existed 150 years ago. When a group of Aboriginal trailblazers left these shores and set sail for England to play 47 games of
cricket and, in the process, became Australia’s first ever sporting team to tour internationally. In 2019, this story came to life in a documentary seen by hundreds of thousands of Australians, charting a return trip by current-day Aboriginal players representing each member of the original team.

“Acknowledging this 150-anniversary milestone is an important element on the course of Cricket Australia’s reconciliation journey.”

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine said the upgraded plan built on the current three-year blueprint by promoting reconciliation “as a priority throughout the cricketing community”.

She said there had been an eight-fold increase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the game since 2013, from 8500 to 69,092 by July this year.

“CA’s capacity to advance reconciliation through sport, spectatorship and the wider cricketing community cannot be overstated,” Mundine said.

There are nine Aboriginal cricketers contracted in state and/or Big Bash teams, including Australian stars Ashleigh Gardiner and the hard-hitting D’Arcy Short.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said an “important element of reconciliation” was to celebrate the cultures and talents of indigenous peoples.

D'Arcy Short in action with the Hurricanes.

D’Arcy Short in action with the Hurricanes. Credit:AAP

“Our long-standing annual carnivals of sport – the Imparja Cup and National Indigenous Cricket Championships – are events that allow us to provide a strong platform to grow participation as well as celebrate culture. It is these pathway events that pave the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricketers to showcase their talents on the national stage,” he said.

A new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricket advisory committee has been established and is co-chaired by Michael Kasprowicz, the former Australian fast bowler and now a CA director.

The fine print of the plan shows the CA executive must annually have one meeting “on country”, while the CA board must meet once over the three-year cycle “on country”.

CA also wants to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff it employs to two per cent by April 2022.

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