Australian Cricket will celebrate NAIDOC Week through a range of initiatives including the rebel Women’s Big Bash League’s First Nations Festival of Cricket.
Held from November 8-15, NAIDOC Week celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and provides an opportunity to acknowledge history, culture and achievements. This is the first time NAIDOC week has fallen within the cricket season, with this year’s theme focussing on Always Was, Always Will Be, recognising that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
The First Nations Festival of Cricket will take place on November 14 and 15. Teams will take part in a barefoot circle pre-match, Walkabout Wickets artwork will be featured on match balls and the bat flip as well as the Melbourne Renegades, Perth Scorchers and Sydney Thunder wearing an Indigenous designed shirt along with teams displaying the Walkabout Wickets logo on their uniforms.
The weekend will also support Cricket Australia’s work with the Stars Foundation who supports Indigenous girls and young women to attend school, complete Year 12 and move into full-time work or further study.
Alistair Dobson, Head of Big Bash Leagues, said it was important for the League to continue to provide forums and opportunities to celebrate culture and make a commitment to reconciliation.
“We’re looking forward to honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during the First Nations Festival of Cricket,” Dobson said.
“The WBBL players have been very proactive throughout the tournament and we hope the Festival provides further opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate First Nations peoples and cultures.”
Adam Cassidy, Cricket Australia Diversity and Inclusion Manager, said it was important for cricket to celebrate NAIDOC Week and recognise the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made to the game.
“Our vision for reconciliation through Cricket Connecting Country aims to unite and inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians to find common ground and thrive through cricket,” Cassidy said.
“As a sport, we aim to have a positive social impact on our community and our Reconciliation Action Plan holds us accountable to becoming leaders in this area.”
In addition to the First Nations Festival of Cricket, this round of the Marsh Sheffield Shield will be named NAIDOC Round with teams also participating in a barefoot circle.
The wider cricket community has also been encouraged to celebrate NAIDOC Week by joining the consistent act of a barefoot circle of commitment through Community Reconciliation Round on 14 and 15 November.
To commemorate one of the nations most incredible and untold sporting stories two further initiatives will be celebrated in NAIDOC Week.
In 1868, a group of all Aboriginal cricketers made a three month journey from Australia to the UK by sea. They arrived in the UK to play 47 matches at some of the most famous grounds in world cricket.
Cricket Australia’s documentary Walkabout Wickets will screen on ABC TV, showcasing a story of cultural identity that follows the current Australian Indigenous cricket teams as they travel to the UK to retrace the steps of the 1868 team and pay homage to those who came before.
In addition to this singer songwriter Matt Scullion has released a song titled 1868, a beautiful summary of both the resilience and achievements combined with the discrimination and tragedy associated with that tour.
Courtney Hagen, Butchulla and Gubbi Gubbi woman and Cricket Australia Indigenous Engagement Specialist, said both the documentary and the song were great ways to pay tribute to the team.
“This song is an incredible way to share and celebrate the journey of the 1868 Aboriginal XI cricket team- a backbone of Australian Cricket,” Hagen said.
“This story is one of strength, resilience and triumph in a time of hardship and struggle. Matt has threaded this story beautifully into a great song we can all sing to share the story far and wide.
“It’s also great that people will have the opportunity to watch our Australian Indigenous cricket teams retrace a special moment in our history with the Walkabout Wickets documentary screening on ABC TV.”
The song was released via a live stream and can be listened to here.The Walkabout Wickets documentary will air on Tuesday, 10 November at 8.30pm on ABC while the third episode of CA’s online panel series Cricket Connecting Country will be released on Thursday, 12 November.
NADIOC Week Overview
Nov 8-11: Marsh Sheffield Shield – NAIDOC Round
Nov 10: Walkabout Wickets documentary 8.30pm AEDT ABC TV
Nov 12: Cricket Connecting Country episode three released on Cricket Australia Facebook
Nov 12-13: Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander T20 Cup
Nov 13: Open media opportunity with Muruwari woman and Sydney Sixers all-rounder Ash Gardner
Nov 14 and 15: rebel WBBL First Nations Festival of Cricket and Community Reconciliation Round