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Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Ashes' - and the Australian tour of England 1968 [by aborigines]

The modern kit bags are appealing and costly too …. Can you associate these primitive implements to Cricket – to a tour that preceded even the first one of Ashes !!

Australia came back very strongly in the 2nd Test at Lords humiliating their old enemy at the home of Cricket – the margin of 405 is too strong…. The players stepped out of their London base at the five-star Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington to treat themselves to the late-night snack.The rivalry dates back to that timeless  Test No. 1 played at Melbourne in March 1877 or even earlier.  Alfred Shaw bowled the first Test delivery to Charles Bannerman, who went on to become the first Test centurion. Hill had both the first Test wicket and the first catch. Midwinter picked up the first 5 wicket haul, and Blackham had the first stumping.Southerton who was among the 22 debutants,  is still the oldest Test debutant at 49 years 119 days.

At 1.05 p.m. on 15 March 1877, the first Test began. It was dominated by Charles Bannerman, who scored the first single in Test history off Alfred Shaw's second ball, was dropped on ten by Tom Armitage off the same bowler (who himself would drop Bannerman twice).   Wikipedia reports that on the second day, the attendance of about 4,000 spectators was found to include "a large number of spectators...supposed to have got in free, by means of tickets not sold at the gates, but procured illegitimately somewhere else", and about 500 heads watching over the fence from outside the ground. Bannerman’s performance so impressed the public that a subscription was initiated, which raised £83 7s 6d for him.  The report states that Aussie fielding was reckless in contrast with that of the "well-drilled Englishmen", and the batsmen amused the crowd by running quick singles after tapping the ball a few yards. Australia  won by 45 runs, Captain Dave Gregory, was given a gold medal by the Victorian Cricket Association, while his team-mates received silver medals.

The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. The Ashes are regarded as being held by the team that most recently won the Test series.The term originated in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia's 1882 victory at The Oval, their first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, before which the English captainIvo Bligh had vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media therefore dubbed the tour the quest to regain the Ashes.

After England had won two of the three Tests on the tour, a small urn was presented to Bligh by a group of Melbourne women includingFlorence Morphy, whom Bligh married within a year. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail, and were humorously described as "the ashes of Australian cricket.” The urn has never been the official trophy of the Ashes series, having been a personal gift to Bligh. However, replicas of the urn are often held aloft by victorious teams as a symbol of their victory in an Ashes series. Since the 1998–99 Ashes series, a Waterford Crystal representation of the Ashes urn (called the Ashes Trophy) has been presented to the winners of an Ashes series as the official trophy of that series. Whichever side holds the Ashes, the urn remains in the MCC Museum at Lord's; it has however been taken to Australia to be put on touring display on two occasions: as part of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations in 1988, and to accompany the Ashes series in 2006–07.

While there had already been four major tours by English sides to Australia, the team arranged and captained by James Lillywhite that left England in November 1876 was the first to visit as a business venture rather than following an invitation.Three years earlier WG Grace had led a similar venture, but there had been deep divisions within the group and Lillywhite's Cricketers Companion had noted that it was unlikely that any attempt to mix amateurs and professionals would happen again.  Lillywhite's side played eight odds matches in New Zealand. While there, they lost wicketkeeper Ted Pooley, an inveterate gambler, who was left languishing in a Christchurch jail after a betting scandal, and so they returned to Australia with the core 11 players.

The margin of Australia's victory in that 1stTest  was 45 runs, a result remarkably repeated in the Centenary Test in March 1977.   Though Ashes is associated with 1882-83 tour, there appears to have been earlier tours too by Australia, not by professionals but by the  visiting Aborigine cricket team who amazed Victorian crowds with bat, ball and boomerang.  MailOnline reports that team of 13 Aborigines visited England in 1868 and played with local sides; and after  matches they would impress the crowds by showing off their traditional skills such as spear-throwing.

MailOnline reports that an astonishing haul of Aborigine artefacts has come to light which tells the story of the first ever cricket matches between England and Australia.As well as playing 47 different cricket matches, the group of 13 Aborigines showed off traditional pursuits such as throwing spears and boomerangs in their tour in 1868.

A  boomerang is one of a number of mementoes from the tour which were recently discovered - although the team brought a variety of tribal objects with them on the 1868 tour, it was long thought that just a single club, now in the British Museum, had survived - until the discovery of a long-lost historical collection earlier this month.When the Aborigines toured England, they were viewed as a curiosity with many spectators wondering how they would cope with the British climate.The 13 players from Victoria were all given quirky nicknames such as 'Dick-a-Dick', 'Sundown' and 'Jimmy Mosquito' to help them appeal to the public.Museum curators have only just found out that the objects are linked to the 1868 tour.

They spent three months sailing from Sydney to Gravesend, arriving in May 1868, and then travelled all around the country facing a variety of teams.The team was coached by William Hayman, originally from Devon, and Tom Wills, a leading figure in cricket and Australian football who spoke an Aboriginal language.Reaction to the players was initially sceptical - The Times described them as 'a travesty upon cricketing at Lord's', while the Daily Telegraph wrote of Australia: 'Nothing of interest comes from there except gold nuggets and black cricketers.'However, the players' performance went some way to changing people's minds, with a crowd of 7,000 turning out to watch their first match against Surrey at the Oval in London.Overall the side won 14 matches, drew 19 and lost 14, while after matches they would show off their athletic skills to the crowd with throwing competitions.

Among the team's leading players were all-rounder Johnny Mullagh, known as 'the W.G. Grace of Aboriginal cricketers', and fearsome fast bowler Johnny Cuzens. At the end of the tour, the Sporting Life wrote: 'No eleven has in one season ever played so many matches so successfully - never playing less than two matches in each week, and frequently three, bearing an amount of fatigue that now seems incredible.'The Telegraph added: 'It is highly interesting and curious, to see mixed in a friendly game on the most historically Saxon part of our island, representatives of two races so far removed from each other as the modern Englishman and the Aboriginal Australian.'Although several of them are native bushmen, and all are as black as night, these Indian fellows are, to all intents and purposes, clothed and in their right minds.'Despite the success of the tour, one player died of tuberculosis during the team's stay and two more were forced to return home early due to ill-health.

The Aborigines arrived home in February 1869 - but because of new restrictions on their movements imposed by the Australian government, no Aboriginal team returned to Britain until 1988.Until recently, the only known memento of their visit was a club now owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club and on loan to the British Museum.But a haul of objects which has languished in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Devon has now come to light nearly 150 years later.Gaye Sculthorpe from the British Museum noticed that the items, including firesticks, spears, and a boomerang, bore the signature of William Hayman, the tour manager.The team was apparently visiting the area on holiday at the time the Exeter museum opened, so Hayman donated the mementoes to help start the collection.

Dr Sculthorpe said: 'Until 9 July 2015, the club associated with Jungunjinuke was the only known artefact associated with the cricket tour known to have survived.The newly discovered items include two spears, two spearthrowers, one boomerang, four clubs and some firesticks. The objects have remained in the museum since then, but only now has their significance been uncovered.

To have identified these Aboriginal artefacts is an amazing discovery that adds tangible evidence to this historic event ~and here is the list of 13 aborgines who pioneered a visit to England for playing Cricket.  :  Johnny Mullagh - traditional name: Unaarrimin; Bullocky - traditional name: Bullchanach; Sundown - traditional name: Ballrin; Dick-a-Dick - traditional name: Jungunjinanuke; Johnny Cuzens - traditional name: Zellanach; King Cole - traditional name: Bripumyarrimin; Red Cap - traditional name: Brimbunyah;  Twopenny - traditional name: Murrumgunarriman; Charley Dumas - traditional name: Pripumuarraman; Jimmy Mosquito - traditional name: Grougarrong; Tiger - traditional name: Boninbarngeet; Peter - traditional name: Arrahmunijarrimun; Jim Crow - traditional name: Jallachniurrimin.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd July 2015.

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