The Big Bash League’s (BBL) inaugural First Nation Round is underway, shining the light on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their continued contribution to cricket.

Cricket Australia has worked towards celebrating Indigenous culture throughout the summer of Cricket by incorporating Welcome to Country before matches, barefoot circles, smoking ceremonies and traditional language used in broadcasts.

The BBL teams will continue to sport their Indigenous designed jerseys throughout the matches, with all of them being specially designed and telling their own stories.

D’Arcy Short from the Hobart Hurricanes spoke to the National Indigenous Times about being one of five Indigenous players in the BBL, saying he is “very proud.”

“I think it’s something that we’ve been trying to push for a couple of years [a First Nations round] and we’ve finally got it, and hopefully it’s one of many to come,” he said.

“It is important to have these rounds highlighting Australia’s Indigenous culture because First Nations people have been around for for many years. It just tries to show a stepping stone for for young Indigenous kids to come through and and play cricket.”

Short comes from the Mitakoodi people on the Cloncurry River in Queensland, and he’s the sixth Indigenous man to have represented Australia in cricket at the highest level.

Along with Short, Dan Christian (Sydney Sixers), Brendan Doggett (Sydney Thunder), Scott Boland (currently playing for Australia) and Josh Lalor are the current Indigenous players in the BBL.

Lalor, who plays for the Melbourne Renegades spoke to the National Indigenous Times about his thoughts on the BBL’s First Nations Round, saying he doesn’t “really have any expectations of what might come given that it’s our first Indigenous round.”

“It’s a nice step, but it’s a slightly overdue step.”

“But I am looking forward to Cricket Australia using this platform throughout the week to celebrate Indigenous people and their relationship with the game and where it stands now,” he said.

“I am also looking to see what the vibe might be for the outlook for the future and seeing where Cricket Australia wants to take the game and how they want to bring that to Indigenous people, to engage them even further.”

Lalor is a proud Kamilaroi man, hailing from Penrith in Western Sydney, and is one of theย  best fast bowlers in the BBL over a long period.

Josh Lalor, Photo Supplied Getty Images.

Lalor told the National Indigenous Times that he thinks “it’s the responsibility of any organisation” to highlight Indigenous culture and that’s why the First Nations round is important.

“With such a significant reach like Cricket Australia, to to be an active role player in connecting broader Australia to the Indigenous community and playing a role in reconciliation, I think is the most important thing,” he said.

“I think being someone within cricket and having worked around Indigenous cricket before, the question I get from a lot of people first off is why? How do we get more Indigenous people playing cricket?

“And it’s not such a cricket focused kind of question, it’s more like ‘what role can cricket play and the organisation’s play and in connecting Australian society, to the Indigenous community to play that role in reconciliation,’

“Hopefully there’s something in the [First Nations] round that sort of prompts them [broader Australia] to jump on Google and find out a little bit more information about Indigenous Australia,

“And like I said, just be a pivotal role in that connection for us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

When the National Indigenous Times asked what more can be done to embrace Indigenous culture in every round of cricket, Short said he believes there should be “Indigenous playing tops for every game.”

“I’m very biassed in this I think. If I had my way, I’d love to see Indigenous tops worn in every game,

“I think it’d be really something that it’s never been done before and be great to see. I think it’s just a stepping stone and we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Lalor said “we’re just scratching the surface as a sport, and we’ve taken huge foundational strides within the last decade, and started to create tremendous momentum.”

“I think there’s still a lot further to go and hopefully cricket Australia sort of embraces that continues to embrace that fully and make a positive contribution to Indigenous Australia.”

By Teisha Cloos