Cricket Australia have inducted the first Indigenous player into the Hall of Fame, naming star player Johnny Mullagh, a Jardwadjali man from Western Victoria, as this year’s recipient of the great honour.
Mullagh was the best player of the 1868 Aboriginal team that became the first sporting team from Australia to tour internationally.
Cricket Australia said in a statement that Mullagh was one of the best players of his era, highlighted by taking 245 wickets at 10 and scoring 1698 runs at 23.65 during that inaugural tour. Mullagh featured in 45 of the 47 matches played during the tour.
“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,” Peter King, Australian Cricket Hall of Fame Chairman said.
“To consider the team’s feats were in an era dictated by inequality, makes their story even more remarkable and worthy of recognition.
“The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame is proud to honour Johnny Mullagh for his contribution to Australia’s cricketing history and national identity.”
Born Unaarrimin, Mullagh played in the third cricket match ever scheduled at the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. This year will see the introduction of the Mullagh Medal for the player of the match in the Boxing Day Test.
Cricket Australia says the award is a recreation of the original belt buckle worn by the 1868 team, chosen due to Mullagh’s strong connection with the MCG.
Nick Hockley, Interim Cricket Australia CEO, said that “Mullagh and 1868 team’s story is one of resilience and triumph.”
“The achievements of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team 152 years ago are truly inspiring, and we thank and acknowledge all descendants from the 1868 team who continue to work with Cricket Australia to bring this incredible story to life,” Hockley said.
“We hope through celebrating their achievements, we can find more descendants connected to this remarkable Australian story, and continue to acknowledge their esteemed place in Australian cricket.”
The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame was first proposed by the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1995.
With the support of Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria, the Hall of Fame was officially opened by the then Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, in 1996.
The selection philosophy for the Hall of Fame focuses on the players’ status as sporting legends in addition to their outstanding statistical records.
The selection panel is made up of representatives from all levels of cricket. Chaired by the current MCC Cricket Chairman, three former players are joined by the respective CEOs of Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association, along with two representatives from the media.
All inductees must have been retired from international cricket for a minimum of five years to be eligible for selection.
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