Australian cricket team in England in 1868

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Australian cricket team in England in 1868

The Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England in 1868 was a cricket team made up of Australian Aborigines that toured England between May and October 1868, the first Australian cricket team to travel overseas. The first tour by an Australian team classed as representative was not made until 1878. International sporting contact was rare in this era. Previously, only three cricket teams had travelled abroad, all English: to the United States and Canada in 1859, and Australia in 1861–62 and 1863–64. From the early 1860s, cricket matches between Aborigines and whites were played on the cattle stations of the Wimmera district, in western Victoria, where many Aborigines worked as stockmen. The athletic skills of the Aborigines were evident and eventually a series of matches were played with the intention of forming a strong Aboriginal team.
Tom Wills managed and coached the team, which played a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day 1866 that attracted 8,000 spectators. An entrepreneur, Captain Gurnett, persuaded the team to play in Sydney with a plan to travel on to Brisbane and then tour England. However, after their arrival in Sydney, Gurnett embezzled some of the funds raised to finance the enterprise, leaving the team stranded.
The Aborigines returned to Victoria and a second attempt to organise a tour of England was initiated by new financial backers. The former Surrey professional cricketer Charles Lawrence, who coached the Albert Club in Sydney, became coach and manager of the team.

Editor: Nishanth Gopinathan.