Sport

Tours of the Aboriginal cricket team since 1868

Aboriginal people played cricket from as early as 1868 and have travelled to England three times.

1868 tour

As cricket’s popularity in 1868 increased, a non-Indigenous man by the name of Charles Lawrence decided to band together an all-Indigenous team of Aboriginal men from lands of western Victoria, believing that their traditional abilities would make them outstanding cricketers [1]. It played its first game at Manly Oval, a Prime Minister’s XI, led by Bob Hawke [2].

Charles Lawrence then decided the team to tour England, a journey that started on 8 February 1868 and took them over six weeks by boat. Led by star all-rounder Johnny Mullagh (Unaarrimin), they won 14, lost 14 and drew 19 of their 47 games over six months.

The Aboriginal cricketers’ journey to England in 1868 was the first sports team to represent Australia overseas, 14 years before the first Ashes tour. It created the beginnings of what is now considered the greatest battle in modern cricket—the battle for the Ashes.

In 2002 the team was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

The team of 1868
Player number Traditional name European name
AUS 1 Arrahmunyarrimun Peter
AUS 2 Ballrinjarrimin Sundown
AUS 3 Bonnibarngeet Tiger
AUS 4 Brimbunyah Red Cap
AUS 5 Bripumyarrimin King Cole
AUS 6 Bullchanach Bullocky
AUS 7 n/a Charles Lawrence (captain/coach)
AUS 8 Grongarrong Mosquito
AUS 9 Jarrawuk (Murrumgunarrimin) Two Penny
AUS 10 Jumgumjenanuke Dick-a-Dick
AUS 11 Lyterjerbillijun Jim Crow
AUS 12 Pripumuarraman Charles Dumas
AUS 13 Unaarrimin Johnny Mullagh
AUS 14 Yellanach Johnny Cuzens

Source: [5]

1988 tour

In 1988 a 17-member Aboriginal Cricket Association team celebrated the 120th anniversary of the tour by travelling to England. Captained by John Maquire the team played 28 games, winning 16 of them. They met the Queen at Buckingham Palace and went backstage at an INXS concert.

2009 tour

In 2009 a squad of 14 Aboriginal players aged 16-26 left Brisbane, Queensland, on 20 June to retrace some of the famous 1868 tour. They played 11 matches within a month, some at the grounds where the tourists of 141 years ago visited.

This time the Indigenous cricket team won 8, lost 3 and drew 1 of their 12 games.

The documentary From The Ashes traces the journey of two members of the 2009 team, Worrin Williams and Cameron Trask.

In the 132 years sinced the first Test match was played, Jason Gillespie is the only Indigenous player to have represented Australia at cricket [3].

It's only a matter of time before Indigenous people make their mark in first-class cricket, particularly with the popularity of Twenty/20.—Dan Christian, Aboriginal cricketer [4]

Fact There are 13,000 registered Aboriginal cricketers across Australia. That figure, however, pales against the thousands of Aboriginal footballers in Australian rules or rugby league.

Footnotes

View article sources (5)

[1] 'From the Ashes', ABC1, 14/3/2010 1:30pm
[2] 'Documentary now on DVD', Koori Mail 467 p.75
[3] 'Raising the profile', Koori Mail 454 p.81
[4] 'Yarning with Dan Christian', Koori Mail 454 p.80
[5] '1868 cricket pioneers honoured', Koori Mail 451 p.79

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Aboriginal culture - Sport - Tours of the Aboriginal cricket team since 1868, retrieved 19 September 2014