Aborigines And Cricket

This is a story I heard of a while ago and it still intrigues me. Almost 150 years ago, a team of Australian aborigines came to England for the first cricket tour. This is the subject of an exhibition at the British Musum later this year, called Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation. The exhibition curator Dr Geye Sculthorpe, said in an article in the i newspaper: “They came here to play gamaes of cricket for 8 months. They also displayed their traditional skills. The team won 14, lost 14 and drew 19 matches. The team of 13 arrived in 1868 and among the items on display will be a club used by Jungunjinanuke, one of the members.

I read about this many years ago, and I recall that one of the players died here, and a gum tree was planted to commemorate him, but was under threat for some reason. This story is particularly odd as the game of cricket was seen as the sport of the elite, so it seems unusual for native people to be taught how to play it. But the combination with traditional skills is significant – as interest in colonial peoples was very much part of the Victorian mind set.

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