Cricket Australia searching for Aborigine role model

February 14th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by admin  

Brisbane, Feb 14 After Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to Aborigines, Cricket Australia (CA) is now pushing hard to find a role model from the Aborigines, the media reported here Thursday.

According to a report in The Courier Mail, CA is sorry that of the 399 men to represent Australia during 130 years of Test cricket, none has been a full-blooded Aborigine. In fact, no full-blooded Aborigine has come close.

Former fast bowler Jason Gillespie, a descendant of the Kamilaroi people who once populated northern New South Wales, is the only Test player to publicly acknowledge his Aboriginal heritage.

And after Rudd’s apology for the wrongs committed by the state on the Aborigines, the indigenous population of Australia, CA is pushing hard to find an Aboriginal role model.

With the annual Imparja Cup featuring 28 indigenous teams, CA will be finding 12 best players including some Aborigines, who would be sent to the Centre of Excellence for a week’s special attention.

Former Queensland fast bowler Mike Mainhardt, manager of the Queensland team in the Imparja Cup, said a simple cultural preference explains the lack of indigenous presence in Australia’s Test history.

Cricket is a patience game and most indigenous sportsmen prefer being on the move. That’s why they prefer the football codes. Also, to make it in cricket you have to move to the big cities and that doesn’t suit a lot of Aboriginal players who get homesick,” Mainhardt said.

Aboriginal involvement in Australian cricket had a flying start before being crushed by the type of cringingly unfair legislation that forced the apology by Prime Minister Rudd Wednesday.

In 1868, an Aboriginal team became the first Australian cricket side to tour England. Featuring names such as Dick-a-Dick, Sundown and King Cole, who died on tour of tuberculosis, they were one of the most enchanting sports sides to leave Australia and did well to win 14 of 47 games in a country not sure what to make of them.

But a year after the tour, Victoria passed legislation that no Aborigines were allowed to leave the state without permission from the government, and the interest of many of the players evaporated. One of the best-known Aboriginal cricketers, Queensland fast bowler Eddie Gilbert, also struggled to come to grips with being treated like a second-class citizen.

Gilbert was famed for having Don Bradman caught behind by keeper Len Waterman for a duck in a Sheffield Shield match. A stunned Bradman said Gilbert’s bowling was “faster than anything I faced from Harold Larwood or anyone else“.

So restrictive were laws about Aborigines travelling outside their settlements that Gilbert needed written permission even to journey to Brisbane and bowl to Bradman.

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