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Andrew Stoddart's bat

Andrew Stoddart's bat

This ruthless rout of Australian cricket will do and has done more to enhance the cause of Australian nationality than could ever be achieved by miles of erudite essays and impassioned appeal.

The Bulletin, 1898
A photograph of a cricket bat. The bat is in a horizontal postion, with its handle to the left in the photo. The wood of the bat is dark. There are dark marks on the face of the bat. A narrow strip of cloth has been wrapped around the bat just above its bottom. The bat handle has concentric scratches or wear marks on its middle section. The bat has been photographed against a white background. It casts soft shadows against the background.

Stoddart's wooden bat has a string binding around the handle and the toe where the wood has split. Photo: George Serras.

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We think that English captain Andrew Stoddart used this bat during his team's 1897 tour to Australia. The Ashes was established as a regular Test series between Australia and England by the 1880s. Every few years Australia would visit England, or England Australia, to contest up to five matches.

A black and white photograph of the 1897 English cricket team. Thirteen men are in front of the entrance to what appears to be a clubhouse. They all wear light-toned trousers, shirts, shoes and caps with a circle motif on them. Six of them stand in a row at the back of the group. Five of them sit on chairs in the middle of the group. Two sit at the front of the group, on the edge of the verandah of the building, almost at ground level. All of the men except for one have moustaches. A large double door and the brick front of the building are visible behind the group. At either side of the group are wooden posts and part of the wooden railing that contains the verandah. The man sitting at the left end of the five on chairs wears batting pads on his lower legs.

Left: England dominated these contests until, in 1897, Australia emphatically claimed the Ashes, defeating England four matches to one. The victory was hailed by the Australian press as more than just a sporting triumph. As the nation approached Federation, the win seemed to signal that an independent Australia had emerged as Britain's equal if not superior. The 1897 English cricket team. Courtesy: La Trobe Picture Collection.

A cartoon depicting a lion encircled by nine kangaroos. The lion, standing on its hind legs, wears a cap with the Union Jack flag on it and a green coat or shirt. Batting pads are visible on its hind legs and it faces to the left side of the cartoon. It holds a cricket bat over its left shoulder. The kangaroos, all holding paws, wear striped coats. The coats on the kangaroos closest to the viewer have 'West Australia', 'New South Wales', 'Queensland' and 'Victoria' in the hems. One kangaroo wears a boater-style hat. At the left of the cartoon stands a man wearing a hat, coat, trousers and shoes. He has his hands clasped behind his back and stands looking at the kangaroos around the lion. A cricket bag containing a bat and pads lies on the ground to the right of the man. At the bottom of the cartoon is the following text: 'Combine, Australia! Umpire Punch. "You've done jolly well by combination in the cricket field, and now you're going to federate at home. Bravo, boys!"

Left: As a united Australian cricket team emerged in the 1890s, the English press delighted in drawing parallels with the impending federation of the Australian states.

This cartoon appeared in Punch magazine in June 1899. Photo: George Serras.

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