Past glories summed up in worthy book

2008-02-16 00:00

OVER the years, Australian cricket has been dominated by players of Anglo-Saxon extraction. Admittedly, the first Australian team to go overseas was an Aboriginal side that toured England in 1868. Led by Tom Wills, the ’68 side was popular and mostly well treated. Wills was a colourful sportsman who witnessed a massacre of aborigines and also helped to create Australian Rules (which is not only the outlook of certain local papers, but also a game created to keep cricketers fit in the winter months that seems to have no rules whatsoever — much as fellows with red hair are called Bluey).

At last there are signs that Australian cricket might be breaking out. Not the least significant part of the Harbhajan fiasco was that it concerned a coloured Australian cricketer. For once the boot was on the other foot and, after years of dishing it out, the Australian cricket community has not known how to respond. Andrew Symonds’s origins are mixed and include West Indian parentage. Not that he had been regarded in that light. Indeed the issue was hardly mentioned. It was not so much a matter of sensitivity. Just that he looked like another brown, muscular, tough Queenslander. Only his haystack hair set him apart, but the general view was that there was no accounting for taste.

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