MELBOURNE, Dec.28 (Reuters) – Johnny Mullagh, who played for the 1868 Aboriginal team that was the first Australian to visit England, on Monday became the first native to be inducted into the country’s Cricket Hall of Fame.
The versatile Mullagh has won 245 wickets at an average of 10.00 and scored 1,698 points at 23.65 in 45 games over the 47-game tour.
Hall of Fame President Peter King said the selection board changed its criteria to allow Mullagh to be inducted as he never represented Australia in the tests.
“I think in this case, Cricket Australia, the players’ association and the Hall of Fame itself wanted to recognize the impact that indigenous players have had on the game,” King told reporters at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday. .
“It was probably an oversight, in retrospect, and I think we chose Johnny as our representative of that time rather than going back and trying to individualize the individual inductees.
“I think it’s a great move, but the current induction criteria haven’t changed beyond that.”
Born “Unaarrimin”, Mullagh played in the third cricket match ever hosted at the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866 for the Aborigines and T. W. Wills XI against the Melbourne Cricket Club.
That story helped introduce the Mullagh medal this year for the player of the match at the traditional Boxing Day test in Melbourne, Cricket Australia said.
The first Mullagh medal will be awarded following the ongoing second test against India.
Mullagh, who lived in the Wimmera area of southern Victoria, died at the age of 50 in 1891.
He will be one of three inductees announced in February.
Australian cricketer has made belated efforts to recognize indigenous players and open up avenues for talent in the elite levels, but only former bowler Jason Gillespie has represented the country in the men’s play tests.
Other Australian sports have been more successful in harnessing Indigenous talent, with Indigenous players predominating in Australian professional football and rugby leagues.