Indigenous cricket star, 23, reveals why she WON’T take a knee for Black Lives Matters before sporting contests
- Indigenous cricketer Ashleigh Gardner won’t take a knee for Black Lives Matter
- Australian all-rounder believes taking knee is more towards institutional racism
- Has celebrated her heritage in the sport in other ways, including Barefoot Circle
An Australian cricketer has opened up about why she won’t spark Black Lives Matter controversy by taking a knee on the field, despite her proud indigenous heritage.
Ashleigh Gardner became the first indigenous woman in almost 60 years to represent her country in woman’s cricket when she made her international debut as a teenager in early 2017.
Gardner, now 23, is now integral part of the Australian side in all three formats and has embraced her new leadership role as an indigenous ambassador in the sport.
But she refused to follow the lead of sports stars opted to take a knee before matches in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in US.
Ashleigh Gardner (pictured) won’t take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
This is despite several Women’s Big Bash League players and staff pledging their support for the worldwide movement before games.
‘Personally, I didn’t really want to do that. And that’s why I haven’t done that, and neither has my team. I think they’re in support of my decision,’ Gardner told news.com.au.
‘Everyone stands up against racism if you’re a decent human being, but the whole taking a knee thing is more towards institutional racism, which is why it’s so prevalent in America at the moment.
‘Of course I’m against racism — Australia can be a very racist country, especially to my people. But taking a knee probably wasn’t something I was willing to do.’
Ashleigh Gardner (pictured right) has explained her reasons for not being involved in the controversial stand in support of the worldwide movement
A proud Muruwari woman, Gardner paid tribute to her culture in an alternative way by taking part in a Barefoot Circle with teammates and opponents ahead of the WBBL season launch.
Players took off their shoes and formed a circle on the field in a respectful acknowledgment to the traditional owners of the land.
‘The barefoot circle is a cricket centric way for players and teams to take a moment prior to matches to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, connect to each other as opponents and pay respect to the country (land),’ Gardner captioned a photo of the powerful moment on Instagram.
‘This is done barefoot as a way to connect to country, but also a moment to reflect that we are all common ground, we are all human beings and we need to stand strong with each other, for each other.’
Richmond and Collingwood AFL players, along with the umpires took a knee prior to the bounce of their game which resumed the season after a 10-week layoff
Gardner is proud to be one of five indigenous players playing in the WBBL.
She was part of Cricket Australia’s commemorations of NAIDOC Week last week, where she spoke about her new talent in indigenous painting she’s developed during coronavirus lockdown.
‘I didn’t really have artistic skills or wants before COVID started and I thought what better way to celebrate my own culture but to also showcase it through NAIDOC Week this week,’ Gardner told reporters on Friday.
‘I raised the idea when I was up in Brisbane for the Aussie tour about potentially doing it and a couple of girls jumped on board straight away.
‘I think off the top of my head, it might have been seven or eight (pairs of shoes).
‘I was trying to get as many people from different teams as possible to have different people from sides so there was more media coverage over it.
Ashleigh Gardner (pictured) said taking a knee ‘wasn’t something I was willing to do’
The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum worldwide following the death of US man George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in May after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.
AFL players were among first Australian sports stars to take a knee when the season resumed in June after a 10 week layoff due to coronavirus.
The powerful gesture was a player-driven initiative supported by the umpires.
The Wallabies rugby union team were set to become the first Australian national sporting team to formally support the global movement prior to their recent Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand in Sydney.
They later backflipped on the decision due to public backlash.
Ashleigh Gardner is one of five indigenous players in the WBBL. She’s pictured playing for the Sydney Sixers at North Sydney Oval on November 7