Australian cricket Hall of Fame inducts first Aboriginal player

Cricket ball (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
Cricket ball (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

Johnny Mullagh, one of the stars of Australia's pioneering all-Aboriginal team that toured England in 1868, has become the first Aboriginal player 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 on a nearby farm.

He is considered one of the best players of his era, appearing in 45 of 47 matches during the first Australian cricket tour of England. He scored 1698 runs at an average of 23.65 and took 245 wickets at 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.

The player of the match in this week's Test between Australia and India in Melbourne will receive the newly created Mullagh Medal in his honour.

"Johnny Mullagh and the 1868 Aboriginal team paved the way for so many future Australians to showcase their skill and talent on the world stage," said Hall of Fame chairman Peter King.

"To consider the team's feats were in an era dictated by inequality, makes their story even more remarkable and worthy of recognition."

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

"His story is an important one for all Australians because it tells of the huge contribution Johnny made to Australian sport in a time of grave inequality and discrimination," added Australian Cricketers' Association interim CEO Joe Connellan.

"Hopefully this honour serves to tell Johnny Mullagh's largely untold story."

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