August 22, 2001

Aboriginal youth team big winners in Kent

The Australian "Downunders" won the second match of their three-week tour of England on Monday when they defeated a Kent XI by 143 runs.

The team, consisting of a selection of the best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricketers in Australia under the age of 21, is following partly in the footsteps of the 1868 tour of England by Aboriginal players - the first tour of England by any Australian cricket team.

According to a press release issued by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) yesterday, the Australians batted first and scored 7/227 in their fifty overs. The Kent side was bundled out for just 84 in 37 overs.

Captain of the Aboriginal youth side, Barry Firebrace from Victoria, shared a 77-run opening partnership from eleven overs with WA batsman Jayden Bennell. Firebrace was top scorer for the innings with 56.

The bulk of the Kent wickets was shared by leg-spinner Ryan Bulger and medium-pacer Kevin Thomas. Bulger, who played for the Canberra Comets when they participated in the Mercantile Mutual Cup, took 4/27 from nine overs, and was named man-of-the-match. Jackson took 4/15 from his nine overs, which included four maidens.

Among Bulger's four victims was nineteen year-old all-rounder James Tredwell, who is a member of the England Under-19 team currently engaged in a test series with their West Indian counterparts. Tredwell made 5.

Monday's victory was their first win of the tour, having lost their opening game to an MCC side at the Lord's Nursery Ground on Friday.

The three-week nine-game tour, organised by ATSIC, aims to put indigenous cricket back on Australia's cricketing map, and to make it possible for more young aborigines to not only play cricket, but also make careers out of the game. In the 124-year history of Test cricket, Jason Gillespie is the only male Australian international player known to have an aboriginal heritage.