Australia Post is releasing a stamp issue to commemorate the sporting achievements and 150th anniversary of the 1868 Aboriginal XI – the first cricket team from Australia to tour internationally. The 1868 cricket tour of England was undertaken by the Aboriginal XI, a team of 13 Aboriginal cricketers, most of whom were Jardwadjali, Gunditjmara and Wotjobaluk men from the Western District of Victoria.
The 1868 Aboriginal XI equalled the playing record of their opponents winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19 of their 47 matches, played between May and October against local and country teams. The players were praised for their sportsmanship by the English press and met with enthusiasm by spectators. “This was an extraordinary achievement by these players, all of whom, aside from the captain, had only been playing the game of cricket for a few years. It is said that the success of this tour paved the way for the first representative tour of England, in 1878, as well as the first Test match against England, in 1880,” said Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt.
The Aboriginal XI of 1868 consisted of: Bullocky (Bullchanach), Charley Dumas (Pripumuarraman), Dick-a-Dick (Yangendyinanyuk), Jim Crow (Lytejerbillijun), Johnny Cuzens (Zellanach), Johnny Mullagh (Unaarrimin), King Cole (Bripumyarrimin), Mosquito (James Couzens) (Grougarrong), Peter (Arrahmunijarrimun), Red Cap (Brimbunyah), Sundown (Ballrinjarrimin), Tiger (Bonnibarngeet), Twopenny (Jarrawuk/Murrumgunarrimin), captained by English professional cricketer, Charles Lawrence.
The stamp, designed by Phil Ellett of Creative Ethos incorporates player portraits from one of the few remaining photographs from the 1868 tour, found at the National Library of Australia. Featured are the team and their manager (minus King Cole, who had passed away from illness, and Sundown and Jim Crow, who had returned home). Most players returned to the restrictions of station life following the tour, with few continuing to play cricket. In 2002, the 1868 Aboriginal XI was posthumously recognised in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as the first cricket team from Australia to tour England. In 2004, each player was posthumously assigned an official Cricket Australia number, to honour their groundbreaking achievements.
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