Australian Cricket Hall of Fame introduces first Aboriginal player

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Johnny Mullagh appeared in 45 of the 47 matches on the first Australian cricket tour of England.© AFP


Johnny Mullagh, one of the stars of Australia’s groundbreaking all-Aboriginal team that toured England in 1868, has become the first Aboriginal player to be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. Mullagh, also known by the traditional name Unaarrimin, was a Jardwadjali man from what is now the state of Victoria and learned to play cricket at a nearby farm. Considered one of the best players of his day, he played in 45 of the 47 matches on the first Australian cricket tour of England. He scored 1,698 runs at an average of 23.65 and took 245 wickets on 10. Mullagh also played in the third cricket match ever scheduled at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day in 1866 for the Aboriginal and TW Wills XI against the Melbourne Cricket Club.

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The player of the Australian-India Test match in Melbourne this week will receive the newly created Mullagh Medal in his honor.

“Johnny Mullagh and the 1868 Aboriginal team paved the way for so many future Australians to show their skills and talent on the world stage,” said Hall of Fame president Peter King.

“When we consider that the team’s performance was in an era dictated by inequality makes their story even more remarkable and deserves recognition.”

Mullagh is the 55th player inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, joining greats like Don Bradman, Shane Warne and Dennis Lillee.

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“His story is important to all Australians as it tells of the tremendous contribution Johnny has made to Australian sport at a time of serious inequality and discrimination,” added Joe Connellan, interim CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

“Hopefully this honor will serve to tell the largely untold story of Johnny Mullagh.”

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