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Aboriginal cricket icon Johnny Mullagh joins Hall of Fame

The best player in the Boxing Day Test will win a medal named after the newest member of the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, Indigenous cricket icon Johnny Mullagh.

Considered one of the best players of his era, the Mullagh Medal was established to honour a player who dominated Australia’s first ever tour of England in 1868.

That team consisted entirely of Aboriginal players and Mullagh, an all-rounder as gifted as any Australia has produced, was the standout player.

Playing a staggering 45 of 47 matches on the tour, Mullagh took 245 wickets at an average of 10 and scored 1698 runs at 23.65.

Born Unaarrimin, Mullagh, becomes the first Aboriginal inducted to the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.

Selection criteria ordinarily demands players must have played Test cricket but an exception was made for Mullagh by the committee which believed the game’s Indigenous heritage had been neglected.

“This was probably a bit of an oversight in retrospect,” Peter King, the chairman of the Australian Cricket Hall of fame said on Monday.

“We have chosen Johnny as a representative of that era … The ongoing inductee criteria hasn’t changed beyond that.

“That record speaks for itself and really should have been acknowledged previously. He was a standout in that era.”

Mullagh learned his cricket craft in the Wimmera region of Victoria before going on to work for the MCC after the tour of England.

He played just a single first class match for Victoria in 1879, in which he top scored, but still had a Boxing Day presence.

He played in the third cricket match ever scheduled at the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866 for the Aboriginal and T. W. Wills XI against the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) in front of one of the biggest crowds of that era.

The Mullagh Medal, being awarded for the first time this year, is a recreation of the original belt buckle worn by the 1868 team.

“Johnny starred in the third cricket match ever scheduled on Boxing Day at the MCG in 1866 where he was his team’s highest runs scorer in both innings before becoming the standout performer on the 1868 tour of England,” King said.

“The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame is proud to honour Johnny Mullagh for his contribution to Australia’s cricketing history and national identity.”

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