Gardner to lead Aboriginal XI on historic tour
April 16, 2018
Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner has been named captain of the women’s 2018 Aboriginal XI that will compete in an historic tour of the United Kingdom.
Gardner, who is one of Australia’s most promising young cricketers having already played 26 matches for her country, will lead a squad of 13 in June as part of the commemoration of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team, who became the first team from Australia to play cricket overseas.
“It’s so important, obviously, the 1868 team, the first ever Australian team to tour internationally,” Gardner said.
“Obviously (with) us being able to do it 150 years later, it’s going to be a special moment.”
The squad is a relatively inexperienced one, with Gardner the only member with international experience.
But the captain, who has just turned 21, is adamant her troops will be up to the challenge.
“I know all the girls are definitely ready for that level, and I think we are going to be able to show it against some really good opposition,” Gardner said.
“I think all the girls are really excited to (represent their culture).
“They obviously know that it’s such a big moment in their career – (it’s) a massive moment in my career as well, being able to captain such an inexperienced team on international tours. I think I’m definitely raring to go.”
It will be the second time Gardner captains an Indigenous XI, as she was tasked with leading the inaugural women’s Indigenous team which toured India in 2016.
“(Going to India) was special in itself, and obviously being able to captain such a young side, I’m really looking forward to going back to England this year, and I’m hoping all the girls are raring to go,” she said.
The team will play four matches, with a marquee match against Surrey to be played at The Kia Oval, one of the venues where the 1868 team played.
“Being able to play at The Oval is pretty special,” Gardner said.
“The first ever team that went over there played at The Oval, so I think that’s one thing that I'm really looking forward to, and obviously it’s a world class venue, so I'm just really pumped to play there.”
Both the female and male squads will also wear uniforms designed for them by Aunty Fiona Clarke, who is the great-great grand-daughter of Grongarrong (Mosquito), one of the stars of the 1868 team.
The design is based off the commemorative artwork titled ‘Walkabout Wickets’ which tells the story of the 1866 Boxing Day match and the 1868 tour.
Alongside the matches, the tour will include a visit to a temporary display at the MCC museum at Lord’s, which explores the history of the 1868 team. The teams will also pay their respects at the resting place of Bripumyarrimin (King Cole) in London, who tragically passed away during the 1868 tour.
In addition to that, a group of players will also travel to Victoria’s West Wimmera region to meet with ancestors and visit key sites significant to the 1868 team.