1868 team to be honoured
Cricket Australia will honour the 14-member indigenous team that toured England in 1868 during a function to be held during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. The ceremony, to be held during the tea break on Monday, will officially recognise the team as the first cricketers to represent Australia, almost a decade before the first official Test was played at Melbourne in 1877.
Faith Thomas, the first Aboriginal female to represent Australia, and Len Clarke - a descendent of Johnny Cuzens, one of the pioneers - will represent the players and relatives of the 1868 side, as team numbers are allocated and a framed replica of the guernsey, circa 1868, is also presented.
The team, which comprised 13 Aborigines and Charles Lawrence, the English captain and coach, played a remarkable 47 games on their five-month jaunt across England, finishing with 14 wins and 14 losses.
Bob Merriman, chairman of Cricket Australia, was among those to pay tribute to the spirit of that first touring party. "The 1868 Aboriginal tour of England marks an important event in Australia's sporting and cricket history as the first cricket team to tour England," he said. "The courage and optimism of the 1868 team to undertake and participate in such a lengthy tour, under the conditions of that era, is an inspiring journey."
Ian Chappell, who has been a prime mover behind the move to recognise the 1868 team, will make the presentation in front of a sizeable crowd at the MCG.