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The Ashes: Cricket Australia hopes Scott Boland inspires Indigenous kids to play

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley hopes Scott Boland is the first of many Indigenous players to appear at Test level in coming years.

The Victorian quick is only the second Indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia, 25 years after decorated paceman Jason Gillespie burst onto the scene.

Hockley admitted there has not been enough pathways for Indigenous cricketers in modern times, with talented athletes often seeking greater opportunities in other sports.

An Aboriginal XI famously toured England in 1868 but in the 153 years since, First Nations Australians have not always had a natural pathway into cricket.

“It’s a pretty stark reminder that Scott’s only the second Indigenous male to play Test cricket and that’s far too few,” Hockley told SEN.

“Eight years ago we had 8000 people of Indigenous background playing the game, we’ve now got 80,000 so hopefully we see more people coming through.”

It comes after Cricket Australia’s Indigenous advisory co-chair Justin Mohamed described Boland’s debut on the big stage at the MCG on Boxing Day as a defining moment for the sport.

“Aboriginal people, where they’ve excelled, they’ve gone to sports where they feel there’s an opportunity like AFL, rugby league, boxing,” Mohamed said on Sunday.

“For some reason, that hasn’t been seen as a genuine opportunity in cricket and that’s what we’re hoping to change.

“You hear of athletes who said they saw Cathy Freeman in 2000 (at the Sydney Olympics) and that’s inspired them to be the next Olympian.

“Hopefully there will be the six, eight or 10-year-old watching something like this and saying ‘that’s what I want to do’.”

Hockley said it was imperative there were stories like Boland, who hails from the Gulidjan tribe in the Colac area of Victoria, to inspire others.

“People see their heroes play and want to emulate them and then one day to aspire and just making it really clear there’s a pathway,” Hockley said.

“Scott’s debut should be absolutely celebrated and that moment shouldn’t be underestimated.”

The Big Bash League will stage an inaugural First Nations round this season from January 8-13.

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