With all the disjointment of the ‘Australian’ identity, it’s hard to pin down anything that universally binds us or even something that a good majority of people who live across this continent today can really agree on or join in on together. One thing that gets pretty close though, is our relationship to sport.
There are definitely individuals who don’t play or support it, but I would take a fair stab at saying it’s a part of the life of most people who live in Australia. It’s also the realm in which our mob have basically always represented - knowing that, could you answer the question, what were the circumstances surrounding the first ever sporting team to represent Australia on an international level?
In 1868, it was a cricket team from the Melbourne Cricket Club comprised of 13 Aboriginal men of the Jardwadjali, Gunditjmara and Wotjobaluk tribes, who were coached and captained by an ex all-England cricketer, Charles Lawrence throughout a six month tour of England that year.
Our people’s history with cricket is a long one, and for our women, it was started by the incredible Faith Thomas. Who was not only the first Aboriginal cricketer to play for Australia, she is also the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in any sport.
She played in 1958 and it wouldn’t be until 61 years later that another tidda would follow in her footsteps.
On today’s episode, my guest is Muruwari woman and the second ever Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in cricket, Ashleigh Gardner.
She played her first game in the baggy green at just 20 years old and three years later, earlier this year, she was part of the history making team who won the T20 Women’s World Cup in front of that history making crowd at the MCG.
Ashleigh so kindly invited me into her home in Sydney for this chat, and it was recorded before I got my deadly rode caster pro and other kit, so I’ll admit its a bit more on the rookie side with the audio.
Regardless, I know Ashleigh’s story will inspire you, to get out there and go for it - or even, as it did for me, do a job of converting me into a cricket fan.
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Thank you so much to Ashleigh for making the time to be a part of this episode, if you'd like to keep up to date with what she's doing you can follow her on Instagram @ashleigh_gardner97
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Always Was, Always Will Be Our Stories is Written, Hosted, Produced and Edited by Marlee Silva, on the unceded lands of the Dharrawal people. We pay our deepest respects to those people and their Elders past and present, whose connection to this place has remained unbroken for over 60 thousand years.
Follow us on Instagram @alwaysourstories
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Theme Music: 'Run' by Tristan Barton
Podcast Artwork: @wuruhi.auaha