History not a mystery for 2018 Aboriginal XI squads
May 27, 2018
To celebrate the start of National Reconciliation Week and this year’s theme Don’t Keep History a Mystery, six players from the 2018 Aboriginal XI squads set to tour the UK next month travelled to Victoria’s West Wimmera region, the home of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team that was the first Australian sporting team to tour internationally.
Natalie Plane, Emma Manix-Geeves, Scott Boland, Nick Boland, Damon Egan and Tyran Liddiard met with descendants from the 1868 team and visited several key sites to learn and further connect with the story before retracing the steps of that original team in the first two weeks of June.
Descendants of 1868 players Grongarrong (Mosquito), Yellanach (Johnny Cuzens), Jumgumjenanuke (Dick-a-Dick) and Charles Lawrence were in attendance and were able to share stories with the 2018 players that will be representing their ancestors on tour.
Descendants were presented with 2018 shirts donning the name of their ancestor on the back.
In 1868, 13 Aboriginal players made the trip to the UK.
In 2018, the 13 male players travelling will proudly represent one of those pioneers each on tour by displaying their name on the back of their uniform.
The female squad will wear their own names on their back, being pioneers as the first female Indigenous team to tour the UK.
Men’s player Scott Boland said: “I’m representing Johnny Cuzens (Yellanach) and my brother Nick is representing Mosquito (Grongarrong) and they were brothers over there so it will be pretty cool to go over there and represent them. I met Ash Cuzens today and he did a nice welcome for us to his land and it was great to meet him and now have that connection.
“We’ve learnt so much about the 1868 tour and Aboriginal culture and next Friday we take off to England where we will get to learn even more then so we’re all really excited to get over there and share some of these stories with the other players on tour.”
Women’s player Natalie Plane said:
“We got to hear stories about the ancestors of those in attendance today and it was really nice to get to know them on a personal level.
“I think this trip has given us a bit more purpose behind why we are going over there and we get to learn about what they had to go through so we can continue to tell that story.”
Across the two days players were involved in a welcome to country and smoking ceremony at Unaarrimin (Johnny Mullagh) Waterhole, a visit to Unaarrimin (Johnny Mullagh) place of rest, a tour of the Harrow Discovery Centre, they stood on the shores of Lake Bringalbert, conducted cricket clinics with local schools in Edenhope at some of the original training locations and attended a farewell dinner put on by the entire community.
Players, descendants and members of the community also contributed items to a time capsule in Harrow that has now been sealed and will be re-opened on 25 May 2068.
In a fitting welcome to the region the town of Harrow draped a 12m x 12m giant silk of the modern-day team’s commemorative artwork Walkabout Wickets over the historic Hermitage Hotel.
Travelling team mentor and educator Peter Cooley said: “I think the trip has been a big eye opener for the players. What has stood out to me is their appreciation for the enormity of the event and what the (1868) players had to go through to get off our shores and go over and play abroad”
Ashleigh Gardner and Dan Christian will lead the 2018 Aboriginal XI sides against several of the same opposition from the original tour.
The schedule includes matches against Surrey, Sussex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Venues used for fixtures against Surrey, Sussex, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will be the same as those used in 1868 including matches at The Oval and Trent Bridge.
Three changes have been made to the original men’s squad named with star bat D’Arcy Short being called up to the Australian ODI squad.
Short has been replaced by Brock Larance (NSW). Also coming in to the team are New South Wales duo Brynley Richards and Ben Patterson to replace the now unavailable Dane Ugle (WA) and Nathan Price (NSW).
Cricket Australia would like to thank the West Wimmera Shire Council and the Harrow Discovery Centre for their incredible support setting up a weekend of activities for players.
The tour is proudly supported by the Commonwealth Bank who are the Principal Partner of Cricket Australia’s A Sport for All program.
The official hashtag of the 2018 Aboriginal XI tour to the UK is #walkaboutwickets