Australia's first official touring squad to England, the 1868 Aboriginal team, will be recognised when the Aboriginal flag is flown at major cricket grounds and offices on Friday to mark the 138th anniversary of their trip. Only two of the outfit, which also entertained audiences in the United Kingdom with boomerang and spear displays during breaks in play, went on to cricket careers after the 47-match schedule and there has been a long fight for appropriate acknowledgement.
The squad left Sydney on February 8,1868 and arrived in England on May 13 for a six-month tour that included 14 wins, 14 losses and 19 draws. James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said the recognition date was a way Australian cricket could pay tribute to the courage of the first touring team.
"The pioneering achievements of the 1868 team have in recent years started to become more widely acknowledged and celebrated, and we want that history and recognition to be ongoing," he said. "In 2002 Australian cricket was successful in having the team inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and in 2004, individual player numbers were allocated to the touring party as formal recognition of their place in Australian cricket history."
Ashley Mallett, the former Test offspinner, wrote the book Lord's Dreaming about the tour, and the Lord's museum exhibits the boomerang of the player Dick-a-Dick as a lasting memory. Cricket Australia has developed the Imparja Cup, an annual, all-indigenous national competition, to lift the profile of the game in recent years, but Jason Gillespie, the great-grandson of a Kamilaroi warrior, is still the country's only acknowledged Aboriginal Test cricketer.
The squad 1 Arrahmunyarrimun (European name - Peter), 2 Ballrinjarrimin (Sundown), 3 Bonnibarngeet (Tiger), 4 Brimbunyah (Red Cap), 5 Bripumyarrimin (King Cole), 6 Bullchanach (Bullocky), 7 Charles Lawrence (captain/coach), 8 Grongarrong (Mosquito), 9 Jarrawuk Murrumgunarrimin (Two Penny), 10 Jumgumjenanuke (Dick-a-Dick), 11 Lyterjerbillijun (Jim Crow), 12 Pripumuarraman (Charles Dumas), 13 Unaarrimin (Johnny Mullagh), 14 Yellanach (Johnny Cuzens).