1868 Australian Indigenous team to be honoured

Published: Sunday, December 26, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Members of Australia's Indigenous cricket team that toured England in 1868 will be honoured at a recognition ceremony during the Australia-Pakistan Boxing Day Test, Cricket Australia said.

The ceremony during the tea break on the second day's play will include formal recognition of the team as the first cricketers to represent Australia by allocating individual player numbers, and a presentation of a framed replica guernsey as worn by the team in 1868.

Faith Thomas, Australias first female Aboriginal to be selected for a national side, and Len Clarke -- a descendant of 1868 team member Johnny Cuzens -- will attend the ceremony on behalf of the players and relatives of the 1868 team.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell, who has been an advocate of formally recognising the 1868 team, will make the presentation on the ground.

As part of the recognition ceremony, the 14-member touring party will be assigned individual player numbers.

This follows the tradition of presenting player numbers to Australian debutants in Test and One-day International cricket.

The 1868 team is recognised as the first cricket side to represent Australia overseas.

Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman said Australian cricket had been seeking to recognise the contribution of the 1868 team in an appropriate manner.

"The 1868 Aboriginal tour of England marks an important event in Australias sporting and cricket history as the first cricket team to tour England," Merriman said in a statement Sunday.

"The courage and optimism of the 1868 team to undertake and participate in such a lengthy tour, under the conditions of that era, is an inspiring journey."

The 1868 team, comprising 13 Australian Aborigines and an English captain-coach Charles Lawrence, was Australias first team to tour England.

Australias first official side to travel abroad did not leave home shores for another decade, and the Ashes contests between Australia and England did not begin until 1877.

During their gruelling five-month tour, the 1868 team played a total of 47 games, finishing with 14 wins, 14 losses and 19 draws.

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