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Teammates back ‘tough cookie’ following online abuse over ‘brave’ statement

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Ashleigh Gardner’s teammates say the star allrounder has coped well with online abuse following her January 26 statement, as the team commence 24 hours of education in the Indigenous space.

Gardner made headlines on Sunday when the proud Muruwari woman admitted her discomfort with playing on Thursday, saying it was a day of hurt and mourning.

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She will play, but the team have made clear they are united in supporting the 25-year-old’s stance.

The side will wear an Indigenous jersey, socks and wristbands for the match as they become a focal point of the change the date debate over Australia’s national day.

Players spent part of Wednesday attending a smoking ceremony and completing a walking tour of Kunanyi/Mt Wellington after arriving in Hobart.

They have labelled Gardner’s statement as brave, particularly given the online abuse that followed.

“She’s been great,” teammate Megan Schutt said after Gardner’s unbeaten 30 off 19 balls in the series-opening win over Pakistan on Tuesday.

“She wears her heart on her sleeve, but she is someone who gets the job done. I’ve checked in via text and she has been great. She’s a tough little cookie.”

Cricketer Ashleigh Gardner, a Muruwari woman, has admitted her discomfort with playing on Australia Day. Credit: Jeremy Ng/Cricket Australia via Getty

Cricket Australia were originally set to go without an elite match on January 26 for the first time in 20 years, with the second and third games in the women’s series to be played in Canberra on the 27th and 29th.

However the cancellation of the men’s series against South Africa prompted the first of those games to be moved to Hobart, to give the Tasmanian capital an international fixture.

A possible clash with the BBL finals at Blundstone Arena then prompted the match to be moved to the 26th.

That was a concern for several members of the team from as early as September, when discussions began around using the game as an educational piece on the pain of the day for Indigenous people.

“Everyone is really supportive of Ash, she’s an important person in our team and the girls have rallied around her,” coach Shelley Nitschke, who mentored Gardner during an Indigenous XI tour of India in 2016, said.

“We have had a lot of discussions around the team about the game and we continue to educate ourselves.”

Australia have on-field challenges ahead of next month’s Twenty20 World Cup.

Beth Mooney did not bat in Tuesday’s win, citing soreness after a busy one-day international series during which she opened the batting and filled in with the gloves.

She is expected to play on Thursday, but with Alyssa Healy sidelined until the global tournament and Georgia Redmayne injured, they have had to place domestic talent on standby.

The uncapped Tahlia Wilson and Victorian Nicole Faltum would be the most likely alternatives.

“We expect (Mooney) to be fit, she will be assessed today,” Nitschke said.

“She had a slight niggle there, we thought it was best if she moved down the order and erred on the side of caution with the cricket coming up.”

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Source: 7News