D'Arcy Short has become just the sixth Indigenous Australian to represent his country at the highest level, named to make his T20 international debut in Sydney tonight.
Short, who grew up in Katherine in the Northern Territory, joins former paceman Jason Gillespie, allrounder Dan Christian and fast bowler Scott Boland as the only Indigenous males to represent Australia. Faith Thomas and Ash Gardner are the two Indigenous women to play for Australia at international level.
Short hammered a record 504 runs in the KFC BBL this season to vault into contention for national selection and help steer his Hobart Hurricanes side into Sunday's BBL final.
While lndigenous Australians have a long association with cricket, stretching back to a historic Boxing Day clash at the MCG in 1866 and landmark tour of England two years later, they have been under-represented at international level.
For decades, pioneering fast bowler Thomas was the only Aboriginal, male or female, to have played for Australia, having played her one and only Test in 1958.
But after Gillespie burst onto the scene in the men's game in the 1990s and forged an impressive decade-long career at the top level, the international debuts of Christian, Boland, Gardner and now Short have come in a relative rush since 2010.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, having previously acknowledged the game hadn't been proactive enough over previous decades to encourage Indigenous participation, is hoping the recent upswing in Indigenous players at grassroots and domestic level will lead to more at in international cricket as well.
"At the highest level we would love to see Indigenous talent coming through and really knocking on the door for Australian selection," he said last year.
"Jason Gillespie was the last one to wear the Baggy Green cap and we would love to see an Indigenous Australian man or woman come through to the Test stage."
Short, from the Mitakoodi people of north-western Queensland, said he hoped young Indigenous cricketers could follow him to the highest levels of the game.
"I know where I come from. I feel a connection with my indigenous heritage,” Short wrote on playersvoice.com.au.
"I’d like to think that when Indigenous kids see us playing together in the Big Bash, it sends a message that they can achieve anything they set their minds to with self-belief."
Short will join Christian, Boland and Gardner in England later this year when men's and women's Indigenous teams will tour the UK to mark the 150th anniversary of the pioneering Aboriginal tour in 1868.
The 1868 tour, which came nine years before the first official Test match between Australia and England in 1877, was the first instance of an Australian sporting team embarking on a tour overseas.