The first indigenous cricketer Johnny Mullagh has been inducted in Australia’s Hall of Fame by Cricket Australia on December 28. Mullagh captained the Aboriginal team that toured England in 1868. Mullagh, also known by the traditional name Unaarrimin, hailed from the state of Victoria, formerly known as Jardwadjali.
Despite not being a professionally trained player, Mullagh was a skillful all-rounder. He scored 1698 runs and grabbed 245 wickets in 45 matches of the 1868 Aboriginal tour. Mulagh was exceptional with the ball on that tour as he bowled 1877 overs with 831 maidens.
While inducting Mullagh to Hall of Fame, Chairman of the hall of fame committee Peter King said, “The selection panel had modified its criteria to allow Mullagh to be inducted given he never represented Australia in tests. Cricket Australia, the players association, and the Hall of Fame itself wanted to acknowledge the impact Indigenous players.”
Prior to the Boxing-Day Test between the hosts and India, Cricket Australia declared that the Player of the Match of the Test would be awarded the Johnny Mullagh Medal as a tribute to honour the leader of the 1868 Aboriginal tour to the United Kingdom. Following India’s iconic win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the skipper Ajinkya Rahane was awarded the special medal.
Mullagh is the 55th player inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. He joins the long list of Australian greats such as Don Bradman, Allan Border, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Ian Healy, Karen Rolton, and Dennis Lillee. Jack Blackham was the first Australian to get inducted to the list in 1996, while Billy Murdoch was the latest entry before Mullagh.
“Mullagh’s 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,” said Australian Cricketers’ Association interim CEO Joe Connellan.