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Jason Gillespie backs Cricket Australia against Morrison's 26 January first fleet comments

Guardian sport
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Jason McCawley/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Australia’s only Indigenous male Test player, Jason Gillespie, has added his voice to the chorus of support for Cricket Australia’s decision to drop the words “Australia Day” from its promotion of Big Bash League games on 26 January.

In further blowback to prime minister Scott Morrison’s first fleet comments, the former Australian quick stood behind the governing body on an issue that has polarised the country.

Related: 'Can’t compare': Cathy Freeman blasts Scott Morrison's 26 January first fleet comments

“I’m proud that CA is leading the way regarding this important conversation,” Gillespie said.

His stance comes two days after Indigenous allrounder Dan Christian told Morrison to “read the room” on social media after the latter criticised the decision by some BBL clubs to follow CA’s guidance in a bid to create a safer and more inclusive environment for fans.

The day, referred to as “Invasion Day” by many Indigenous people and others, will instead be referred to by some clubs simply as 26 January.

Morrison said the push by CA was “pretty ordinary” and told the organisation there should be “a bit more focus on cricket and a little less focus on politics”

He then claimed the date in 1788 “wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those [first fleet] vessels either”.

Paceman Josh Lalor has also spoken out, telling Fairfax Media Morrison “lacks leadership” and expressing disappointment that his own BBL club, the Melbourne Renegades, would not be following CA’s recommendation.

“I’m really surprised it’s caused so much angst for those who don’t hold the same view,” said Lalor, who is co-chair of Cricket NSW’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

“The people on the other side have not been as compassionate and thoughtful and made it out to be an enormous deal which CA haven’t done.”

On Friday, Olympic gold medal winner and prominent Indigenous rights campaigner, Cathy Freeman, rejected Morrison’s comments.

“You can’t compare the experiences of those 12 ships that first arrived to this country to what their arrival meant for all generations of Australia’s First Nations people!” Freeman tweeted on Friday.