Australia cricket captain Pat Cummins.
The nation can "probably find a more appropriate" date to mark Australia Day, Pat Cummins says. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
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Pat Cummins backs calls for Australia Day rethink

January 23, 2024

Pat Cummins has called for a change to the date of Australia Day, backing the decision for the term not to be used in marketing for the Brisbane Test.

Cricket Australia (CA) have chosen not to brand this week’s second Test against West Indies as ‘the Australia Day match’, or use the term at the Gabba on day two on January 26.

The organisation’s long-held position has come under fire this week, with CEO Nick Hockley enduring a grilling on Sydney radio on Tuesday morning.

Test captain Cummins has backed the move, and in turn become the highest-profile sporting star in the nation to push for a change of date to mark Australia’s national day.

“I absolutely love Australia. It is the best country in the world by a mile,” Cummins said. 

“We should have an Australia Day, but we can probably find a more appropriate day to celebrate it.

“Once you start realising Jan 26 and why it is chosen, Australia Day is meant to be a celebration of everything Australia and our history. 

“(So) we could choose a better date.”

CA dropped the term ‘Australia Day’ from marketing in 2021, when some Big Bash League teams wore Indigenous strips for games played on January 26.

A women’s international was shifted to the date last year, prompting Indigenous woman and Australia allrounder Ashleigh Gardner to speak out on the matter.

Australia international Ashleigh Gardner.
 Ashleigh Gardner spoke out when a women’s international was shifted to January 26 last year. Image by Simon Sturzaker/AAP PHOTOS 

The Gabba Test was always going to present a challenge for officials, with West Indies in Australia for the series and the public holiday falling on a Friday.

Cummins, who said speaking to fellow players including Gardner and Scott Boland brought the issue closer to home, could not understand the recent furore.

“(The issue) is not new,” Cummins said. 

“This conversation comes up every year and Cricket Australia has been pretty consistent the last four or five years with the way they approach it 

“In a sport like cricket, which has such diversity and millions of people supporting it and playing it, you get a good spectrum of the community and a good feel for what the community expects. 

“Knowing a couple of those players that you mentioned, you hear the stories and their feelings. So it does gather extra importance.”

Pat Cummins with bowler Scott Boland (right).
 Conversations with fellow players including Scott Boland (right) have helped cement Cummins’ view. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Cummins’ comments came at the completion of a solar-energy project at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

Vocal in his view of the need for action on climate change, Cummins has long been happy to be involved in conversations on matters outside of cricket.

Chief executive Hockley on Tuesday insisted CA were attempting to take a neutral position on January 26.

“We are not precluding anybody celebrating Australia. We are not boycotting Australia Day,” Hockley said on Sydney radio station 2GB. 

“We are taking the same approach we have over the past four or five years. We have spoken to our players and spoken to our committee. 

“We want people to come along and enjoy Australia Day. 

“But for some, including in our elite playing group, it’s not a day of celebration. And we are seeking to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.”