UNSW, and UNSW Cricket Club, are about to have their 3rd Australian representative, in former 1st Grade skipper Dan Christian, who has been picked for the Twenty20 Internationals on Sunday (Feb 21) and Tuesday (Feb 23) night. Dan played for UNSWCC from the age of 15 until two years ago when signed by the South Australia Redbacks.
Article courtesy of Peter Roebuck, www.smh.com.au:
Dan Christian's inclusion in Australia's Twenty20 squad to play the West Indies is wonderful news for an Aboriginal cricket community that has suffered many blows and much neglect but is now starting to blossom. Jack Marsh, Eddie Gilbert, Tom Wills, Unaarrimin (aka Johnny Mullagh) will be dancing in their graves. Charles Lawrence and others from the 1868 Aboriginal touring party to England will join them. Everyone at the Imparja Cup held in Alice Springs last week will be delighted. Jason Gillespie and other unsung heroes will smile. Youngsters such as Chris Swain and Trent Clemments will know it can be done. It is a fine day for the entire game.
On and off the field Christian has much to offer. An impressive young man and a constant cricketer, he comes from the Wiradjuri people of the Riverina. In his time he has worked in the Indigenous Employment Branch of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and captained the Aboriginal team that toured England last year. Actually, cricket was lucky to keep him because, like his dad, Clem, he was a promising league player but cricket called louder.
Of course he is not the first Aboriginal cricketer to play for his country, but may well be the man best placed to inspire others. That 1868 side played 47 matches in England and seemed to herald a bright period in Indigenous cricket. Alas the moment was missed. Thereafter cricketers emerged in fits and starts, and usually encountered hostility.
Decades later Marsh was drummed out of the game because his action was regarded as suspect. He offered to bowl in a splint and did so in one club match but it was to no avail. Gilbert was hounded out of the game after his thunderbolts shook Don Bradman, dismissing him for a duck. He had a four pace run and a whiplash action. It was racism. Gilbert ended up as an indigent, enduring shock therapy in an asylum.
Christian has risen in a different way and in a mostly different time. Certainly he has not burst onto the scene with stunning and loose limbed fast bowling. Nothing in his cricket catches the eye. He is not a stylish or polished or particularly correct cricketer. But he gets the job done, puts runs on the board, takes vital wickets. Most of all he is a competitor. It's no use defeat tapping him on the shoulder; it needs to knock him down and keep him down before he will acknowledge its existence.
Despite his grit, though, few expected Christian to rise so far. Like John Hastings, suddenly the young cricketer of the year, he was cast as a handy operator, a player able to chip in but not likely to take charge. And so it remained for season upon season. But he persisted, moved from NSW to South Australia in search of opportunity. It's not so much that NSW underestimated him. Everyone did. Christian kept improving, and always refused to accept that a limit had been reached.
Not until this summer, though, did he catch the eye as a cricketer worthy of higher honours. He has played his part in taking an unsung South Australian team to the lucrative and multinational Champions League finals. He stood alongside Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi and helped them to win matches, contributed something in almost every contest. He kept the batsmen guessing and the scoreboard moving. And along the way his confidence surged.
Now Christian's form had spread to the longer format. Last week he scored 71 and took 5-24 as his adopted state squeezed home against Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield. He has also been consistent in the 50-over competition. No wonder the selectors invited the 25-year-old to represent his country. He has earned his place with hard-hitting batting and canny, combative bowling. It is an honour that will be keenly felt in the Christian household and in many other places.
Click here to see the press release and some video footage of Dan in action from Fox Sports.