Australian cricket June 16, 2009

Aboriginal tour to mark 1868 groundbreakers

Cricinfo staff

A team of Aboriginal cricketers sets off for Britain on Saturday, following in the footsteps of a pioneering indigenous side recognised as the first to represent Australia in any sporting code. The original side, a privately-raised venture, toured England with great success in 1868, winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19 matches on a gruelling schedule.

They were due to return the following year but the plan fell through because of a lack of money. To mark what is recognised as the first Australian side to visit England, Cricket Australia has assembled a team of young Aboriginal cricketers who will play matches at some of the grounds used by the original party.

"It's hard to imagine what is was like to tour 141 years ago, three months on a boat for a start would have been hard enough for those guys," Daniel Christian, the team's captain, said. "As we've seen through other sports, indigenous people are some of the most talented sportspeople in the country and it's only a matter of time until some of this squad make their mark in first-class cricket. This will give kids in the indigenous community more role models to look up to."

Tour manager Neale Price echoed those views. "Cricket's a game that can take you to the UK, India, South Africa, the West Indies … any corner of the world," Price said. "There's not many major sports in Australia that can offer that experience, so hopefully this team will come back as role models and spur on indigenous boys and girls to get involved in cricket."