Ash Gardner became the first Indigenous woman to play at a World Cup; the phenomenon of D’Arcy Short continues to grow, and thanks to the Big Bash, players like Scott Boland and Brendan Doggett are more popular than ever.
And Brisbane Heat’s Josh Lalor has celebrated in the fact that these Indigenous players have risen to the top of Australian cricket.
At the time of his first-class debut for New South Wales in 2011, Dan Christian and the not-long retired Jason Gillespie were the only players of Indigenous heritage to have represented Australia in recent memory.
Now, thanks to the Big Bash, there are more eyes on Indigenous cricketers than ever before, and Lalor says it’s important that these Indigenous role models continue to fly the flag for their culture.
“At the moment, we have a really great collection of young indigenous players in and around the first-class and the Big Bash system,” Lalor said.
“It’s really important that those players balance their own commitments, because they need to keep developing themselves as people and players.
“But when the opportunity arises to be a role model and contribute back to grassroots and make sure that those kids have something to aspire to, because its challenging to create those heroes if they don’t have anyone to look up to.”
Lalor played nine first-class games over a four-year period for the New South Wales Blues, but found greater success in the game’s shortest format.
The 31-year-old has a forged a professional career through Twenty20 cricket. The Brisbane Heat fast-bowler finished the 2018-19 BBL season as the competition’s fourth highest overall wicket-taker with 20 wickets.
If you want to talk about producing more Australian Indigenous athletes or cricketers, with Indigenous backgrounds, they need to have more role models.Josh Lalor
Away from the field, Lalor holds down a full-time position as Cricket New South Wales’ Coaching and Talent Manager.
Previously, he served as Cricket NSW’s Indigenous Programs Coordinator and now plays a significant role with Cricket Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“Until most recently, I’ve been working with Cricket Australia on their Reconciliation Action plan which we are 60-70% of the way through, which is a really exciting project.”
The Australian Cricket Reconciliation Plan (RAP) aims to strength relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, the RAP draws on cricketer’s influence in Australia to contribute to reconciliation with plans to drive greater equality and sustainable opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
“For me, it’s really rewarding to see the way cricket has become involved in the Indigenous community and in the Indigenous space.
“From just dipping its toe in a few years ago to now working on a really high level reconciliation plan that will have an impact throughout the whole of Australian cricket, that’s been really rewarding.
“To see the opportunities provided to Australian cricketers with Indigenous backgrounds is really, really exciting.”
Lalor’s Indigenous heritage comes from the Gamilaraay tribe in Northern NSW.
He has represented Australia on a number of Indigenous tours as a player and staff, in Papua New Guinea, England and India.