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The Australian Eleven

The 1878 Australian Eleven collage

The first official representative national Australian Test cricket team travelled to England in 1878. The Australian team, captained by Dave Gregory, defeated the English team by nine wickets at Lord's on 27 May 1878. Ten years earlier, an Aboriginal team, made up of stockmen who had learned the game on Victorian cattle stations, travelled to England for a series of matches against county teams. 
Three nineteenth century photographs of Australian cricketers. The photos are arranged side by side. Each is in portrait format. The left side main photo shows thirteen smaller individual photos of Australian male cricketers. Each photo is oval in shape and shows the head, shoulders and chest of each cricketer. There is a single photo at the top, then a row of four, a row of three, another row of four and a single one at the bottom. Under the bottom photo is written 'Australian Eleven. 1878.' The middle main photo shows an oval-shaped image of a male cricketer in a striped shirt. He has a full beard. Under the image is written 'Mr D. Gregory. N.S.W. Captain'. The right side main photo shows an oval-shaped image of another male cricketer in a striped shirt. He has a moustache. Under the image is written 'Mr T. Kendall. VICT. (Colonial Tour only)'.


This photo collage, Australian Eleven, 1878, is composed of albumen prints mounted in a cardboard mat. Photo: George Serras.

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This collage of photographic portraits was presented to Australian captain Dave Gregory to recognise his top score in a match between the Australian XI squad and a Victorian 18 in March 1878. Australia played England in the first ever Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1877 and an Australian team, captained by New South Welshman Gregory, was organised to tour England the following year. Before departing, the Australian XI played a series of warm-up matches against local colonial teams. This collage marks the last of these domestic matches.

Conway, the team manager, appears in the centre of the collage, surrounded by the players. Someone has written 'Colonial Tour only' under Kendall's portrait. It seems that Gregory dropped Kendall from the squad because his drinking and lack of discipline caused problems that the captain did not want repeated in England.

A newspaper article on the topic of the 1878 Australian cricket team tour to Britain. The article is in three columns. The left side column has the heading of 'Cricket. The Australian Eleven V. The Combined Fifteen Of Victoria And New South Wales.' This column focuses an upcoming game between these two teams. The middle and right columns focus upon the impending tour of the Australian team to Britain. Terms such as 'colonial skill', 'terrra incognita' and 'the science of cricket' are used in examining the prospects of the Australian team once they face their British counterparts.


Right:
The 1878 Australian tour was eagerly followed by English and Australian newspapers, with the English trying to gain an impression of the colony and Australians endeavouring to prove their worth to the mother country. Courtesy: National Library of Australia.

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