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Aboriginal cricketers to tour UK

A group of Aboriginal cricketers hope their re-tracing of the famous 1868 tour of England will raise the sport’s profile to indigenous Australians.

深圳桑拿网

A squad of 14 players aged 16-26 will depart for England on Saturday, and play 11 matches inside a month against county and club sides, some at the grounds where the tourists of 141 years ago visited.

The 2009 squad, whose visit will coincide with the Test side’s Ashes defence, are only the third tour party of indigenous players to visit England since the 1868 squad became the first sports team to represent Australia overseas.

The 1868 team led by star allrounder Johnny Mullagh, won 14, lost 14 and drew 19 of their 47 games over six months and were a curiosity in England, embraced by many, but also mocked by some.

Participation ‘low’

Despite the achievements of those players, cricket took a long time to take off among indigenous Australians, and it has only been in the last few years that participation has grown steadily.

There are 13,000 registered Aboriginal cricketers across the country, but that figure is dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands of indigenous footballers, either in Australian rules or rugby league.

At the highest level, the ratio is even more skewed.

Indigenous stars comprise about 11 per cent of the total number of players in the AFL and NRL, whereas Aborigines make up 2.5 per cent of the national population.

Boxing, athletics and even basketball are other sports where Aborigines have reached the top.

Yet, in the 132 years since the first Test match was played, Jason Gillespie is the only player with indigenous blood to have represented Australia at cricket, although Eddie Gilbert was a bowler of such talent in a short career for Queensland in the 1930s that he dismissed Don Bradman.

South Australian allrounder Dan Christian, who will captain the squad about to leave for England, believes it will be sooner rather than later that more indigenous players earn selection in state sides.

“It is essentially a development tour, so it will be a great opportunity for the guys who have never been overseas before to learn more about their game and obtain some pretty valuable life experience along the way,” he says.

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