Sydney, Oct 27 : Cricket Australia (CA) might plan to go back to its cricketing roots, by inculcating the sporting techniques among the Aborigines, as the first Australian cricket team to tour overseas was a side made up of Aborigines which toured England between May and October 1868, winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19 matches.
The first tour by an official Australian team did not occur until 1878.
In a bid to popularise the sport among the local communities, CA may consider introducing special competitions to improve their small participation rate in the sport.
Outgoing CA chairman Creagh O'Connor, who stepped down last Friday, said that the lack of indigenous cricketers across the country was the "biggest failure" of his three-year term.
"I'm disappointed at the progress we're making there. It's not for any lack of endeavour," foxnews.com quoted O'Connor as saying in his only wide-ranging interview as chairman.
While the annual Imparja Cup, the indigenous cricket championship in Alice Springs, has grown from five teams in 2001 to 28 across five divisions with 300 players, including some women's teams, cricket has not been broadly embraced across local communities, added the report.
O'Connor believed the cost of cricket gear was one reason and feels authorities may have to become more proactive to make a difference. "I'd prefer to see indigenous players playing in regular competitions, but it may well be that to bring this along we may have to have special indigenous competitions, as we do with the Imparja Cup, so they can grow in confidence," O'Connor said.
He further said: "There is no doubt their hand-eye co-ordination is fantastic. I've been to six or seven Imparja Cups. Their ability to strike the ball is incredible. Perhaps their bowling is not growing at the same rate. We've got to keep working at that and getting it right. I can't believe there are not a lot of indigenous men and women out there who are not capable of playing at the highest level."
The most famous Aboriginal cricketer is fast bowler Eddie Gilbert, who played 19 Sheffield Shield matches for Queensland between 1930 and 1936, once dismissing Don Bradman. To his credit, Bradman had once said that Gilbert was "faster than anything I faced from Harold Larwood or anyone else".
In recent years, Cricket Australia has attempted to right the wrongs of the past. In 2002, the 1868 team was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Then, in 2004 CA introduced special player numbers to recognise those players in the team, and on May 13, 2006 CA and state and territory cricket associations flew the Aboriginal flag in recognition of the team's arrival date in England 138 years earlier.
Story first published: Monday, October 27, 2008, 14:43 [IST]
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