Aboriginal team follows pioneers to Britain

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/a/aboriginalcricketers.jpg' class='caption'> vA team of Aboriginal cricketers sets off for Britain, following in the footsteps of a pioneering indigenous side recognised as the first to represent Aus.

Updated: June 16, 2009 16:24 IST
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A team of Aboriginal cricketers sets off for Britain on Saturday, following in the footsteps of a pioneering indigenous side recognised as the first to represent Australia in any sporting code.

The original indigenous team toured England in 1868 -- nine years before the first Ashes series established cricket's oldest rivalry -- enduring a three-month voyage before embarking on a 47-match tour.

The side, which recorded a creditable 14 wins, 14 losses and 19 draws, is widely acknowledged as the first to compete under the Australian national banner, according to Cricket Australia (CA).

More than 140 years later, CA has assembled a team of young Aboriginal cricketers to honour the original touring party, playing at many of the same venues as the sporting trailblazers.

Captain Dan Christian said it was daunting to consider the obstacles the tourists faced in 1868 and he hoped the tour, which coincides with Australia's Ashes series, would fire interest in cricket among the Aboriginal community.

"It's hard to imagine what is was like to tour 141 years ago, three months on a boat for a start would have been hard enough for those guys," he said.

"As we've seen through other sports, indigenous people are some of the most talented sportspeople in the country and it's only a matter of time until some of this squad make their mark in first-class cricket.

"This will give kids in the indigenous community more role models to look up to."

Tour manager Neale Price said the trip would show Aboriginal children the opportunities available to them if they pursued a career in cricket.

"Cricket's a game that can take you to the UK, India, South Africa, the West Indies -- any corner of the world," he said.

"There's not many major sports in Australia that can offer that experience, so hopefully this team will come back as role models and spur on indigenous boys and girls to get involved in cricket."

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