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PM's XI v ATSIC Chairman's XI Cricket Match 2003
The 1868 Tour of England
"Nothing of interest comes from Australia except gold nuggets and black cricketers," observed the English press with the arrival in 1868 of the first Australian cricketers to tour England - a team of Aborigines from the Western District of Victoria.
The first official Australian team toured England a decade later. The Ashes series began 14 years later.
When the teams ship berthed at Gravesend on 13 May 1868, it was 87 years to the day since the First Fleet sailed from Gravesend under Arthur Phillip to undertake settlement in Australia.
Their first game at the Oval against Surrey on 25-26 May attracted some 20,000 spectators.
An interested spectator recalled that they played bare-footed and ran like deer. Their running between the wicket could be heard as well as seen. They tore up and down the pitch screaming and shouting in native backchat.
The 1868 team was assembled by two Englishmen, William Caffyn and Charles Lawrence.
Their passage to England was eventful. They were smuggled aboard the Parramatta, having been refused permission to travel to England by the Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines.
During a grueling five month stay in England they played a total of 47 games. They scored 14 wins, 14 losses and 19 draws.
On their departure Sporting Life wrote: no eleven has in one season ever played so many matches so successfully - never playing less than two matches in each week, and frequently three, bearing an amount of fatigue that now seems incredible.
And although only 11 fit players took part in the tour, they still played an amazing 47 fixtures.
Play usually began at 11am and continued until 7pm for the 2 day games. There were no tea breaks and the only interval was for lunch - a 35 minute period between 2-3pm.
By the end of the tour, Mullagh, Cuzens and Lawrence had dominated the game.
Between them they bowled 4234 overs of the teams 4934 four ball overs. Their tally of wickets was 609, while the other bowlers bagged only 105.
The trio was also the backbone in the teams batting performances. All three scored more than 1000 runs on the tour, while Mullagh reached 1698 runs at the teams best average of 23.65. No centuries were recorded by the tourists, although Mullagh hit 94 and Cuzens 87. Cuzens reached 50 on nine occasions and Mullagh on eight.
Tragedy struck the tour weeks after arriving in England when King, Cole contracted tuberculosis and died. Illness also forced Sundown and Jim Crow to be sent home.
The players dispersed on their return home. Many died young and in relative obscurity. Cuzens and Mullagh were the only members who went on to notable cricketing fame.
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