The inaugural First Nations Round is underway, presenting an opportunity to pay respect, acknowledge and learn about First Nations culture, including through the Indigenous playing shirts each team has donned this week.
Throughout the round, matches are being played on the lands of the Kaurna people at Adelaide Oval and Karen Rolton Oval, and the Yuwibara people at Great Barrier Reef Arena, Mackay.
For the first time every team has unveiled an Indigenous playing shirt, designed in collaboration with local Aboriginal artists.
The eight shirts have eight unique meanings, though all link to the game of cricket and connection in community.
With the help of the artists, each club has shared the different story of their shirt.
The Adelaide Strikers’ kit was designed by Aboriginal artist Allan Sumner, a descendent of the Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Yankunytjajara people.
Named Karrampu Manku-nthi, meaning “to catch something that has been hit or thrown from above,” the design was first worn by the team in the Faith Thomas Trophy match that opened the WBBL|07 First Nations Round.
The primary element of the shirt is the centric circles in the middle of the artwork, which represent the cricket ground where the Adelaide Strikers play, with a batsman and bowler facing at either end.
The dots on either side represent the cricket ball as it is hit and thrown across the field.
The other two features are the hands on the sleeves, which represent the hands of the players, and the different shades of blue dots that represent different communities and places across the country where the Adelaide Strikers play cricket.
Mikayla Hinkley, a proud Kunja woman and Brisbane Heat player, whose family hails from Cunnamulla, south of Charleville, helped design the Brisbane Heat’s First Nations Round playing shirt.
She collaborated with Brisbane Indigenous artist, and close friend, Delores McDonald (“Aunty Delly”) to create the jersey.
“The storytelling element visualises where we want to take cricket within the Indigenous community in Queensland,” Hinkley said.
“With the NAIDOC theme being Heal Country this year, it’s really fitting for what we are trying to achieve as an organisation, both from the Brisbane Heat and the Queensland Cricket perspective.
“The fact we’ve been able to visualise such an amazing story and history of culture in this city gives these kids something to aspire to; and encourages them to keep connecting with culture through playing cricket.”
The front of the shirt features the flames of the Heat’s logo surrounding the Gabba circle, where players are sitting in a circle which represents harmony and unity, bringing players and fans together.
The Brisbane River, with its abundance of foods, plus animal and human tracks, is on the back of the shirt. A Rainbow serpent/snake represents both male and female players, and the Circle represents Gabba, plus roads travelled to and from it by teams.
On the sleeve, the centre circle is the Gabba, alongside other water holes which used to be near the ground. There are 87 black strokes on red earth that represent the wickets taken by Aboriginal great, Eddie Gilbert (23 games for Queensland).
Palawa woman Sharnie Read designed the Hobart Hurricanes shirt ahead of the league-wide First Nations Round.
Read’s design represents the ancient symbols of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, one of the oldest cultures in the world, and showcases Palawa connection to country.
“Anyone who’s connected to Lutruwita, if you’re born here, if you’re representative of here, those symbols connect you to place, that’s how we see it in the Aboriginal community,” Read said.
“Tasmania’s history is quite beautiful, and in regards to those symbols, they have been recreated and connected by all generations, right through to today.
“When people see dot paintings they think of Aboriginal people [but] those dot paintings are really only from the desert country, they’re from one particular kind of Aboriginal identity…they don’t represent all Aboriginal people.
“These symbols on your shirts, they represent all Aboriginal people in Tasmania, but they wouldn’t represent anyone on the mainland…
Mainland Aboriginal people wouldn’t recognise them in the sense of their connection [to the land], but everyone in the Tasmanian Aboriginal community recognises them as our connection.”
Several of the symbols depicted are found in ancient engravings around the island’s coastline, and show the Palawa people’s connection to land and sea through the symbols rolling across the waves.
The blue gum leaves represent the sharing of knowledge, the love of the island, and its unique environment.
The Melbourne Renegades have worn an Indigenous playing shirt in the past two WBBL tournaments, including as part of the First Nations Festival of Cricket in WBBL|06 for NAIDOC week.
One of five First Nations players in the WBBL, Ella Hayward from Jawoyn tribe spoke to media at the First Nations Round launch about what it means to represent her culture and see the competition engage with it.
“It means a lot. Obviously, it being part of my background. It’s super awesome to see an actual round and so much media and traction around Indigenous culture in cricket,” Hayward said.
“It’s really awesome to represent my tribe and my culture…”
The Renegades’ playing shirt has been designed by Ky-ya Nicholson Ward, a Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung and Ngurai-illum Wurrung woman.
“This jersey, so it was designed by 19-year-old Ky-ya Nicholson Ward, she’s from Melbourne and she’s done our shirts for the last three years,” Hayward said.
“This one, basically the main piece is this circle here (on the front), which represents gathering and then the 12 circles around it, which symbolises the 12 players.”
Nicholson Ward also designed the Stars’ playing shirt ahead of the First Nations Round.
Her artwork includes blue waterways running through the front of the shirt. These represent the Birrarung (Yarra River), which is significant to Nicholson Ward and her people, Wurundjeri, Dja Wurrung and Ngarai-illum Wurrung people.
The star on the back represents Stars country. This is where Bunjil, a wedge tailed eagle, the creator spirit lives.
The surrounding smaller stars represent the players of the team, coming from all different paths and places in life, but all being connected through cricket.
The circles in the middle of the design represent family.
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She said the focus of her design is around the water, which is “significant to our culture and to the landscape, especially at the WACA Ground and in Perth.”
“The background of the design represents the resilience of water through flow and adaptability,” she said.
“In the foreground, there are concentric circles that represent the ripple effects of new opportunities and connections.
“The artwork is inspired by the way that we resemble water, especially going through the pandemic, how we’ve been able to change constantly to come out better and stronger.”
The Sydney Sixers also unveiled their shirt ahead of their October 31 clash with the Perth Scorchers, which was an Indigenous Match celebrating culture at Lilac Hill.
The Sydney Sixers playing shirt, which symbolises the connection of the Sixers community, was designed by Jordan Ardler, a Sydney-based Bidjigal woman, in close collaboration with Sixers First Nations players Ashleigh Gardner (Muruwari) and Dan Christian (Wiradjuri).
Gardner explained that she and Wiradjuri man Christian are represented in the design.
“Myself and Dan Christian, being the two indigenous players in the female and male side, so there’s a little note for my tribe, which is the sand goanna, which is my totem,” she said.
“And then basically the three rivers that run through the middle of the jersey here are Dan’s tribe, the Wiradjuri tribe.
“And then the main meeting place in the middle being the SCG, being our home ground.
“Then all different meeting places around the jersey, which just represents, I guess, the different grounds that we play at, and then the little ‘U’ shapes are symbols for people too, at those meeting places.”
Sydney Thunder has revealed its playing shirt to be worn in the inaugural WBBL and BBL First Nations Rounds.
The Thunder’s shirt was designed by Sydney-based Yuin woman, Rheanna Lotter, honouring culture and symbolising the connection in the Thunder Nation community.
Proud Kamilaroi woman Hannah Darlington and teammate, Gumaygnggir woman Anika Learoyd wore the design at the launch.
Darlington, who in September became the third Indigenous woman to represent Australia in cricket, explains the connection within the Thunder Nation and their fierce teams.
“Rhe Lotter, again, has done an amazing design. So, I think the key parts for us is the fact that this is our main circle in the Thunder team and the people who are lucky enough to wear the shirts,” Darlington said.
“And then we’re followed around by the boomerangs this year, which explain a bit of our fierce energy that we want to play with at the Thunder, always being attacking and I think that leads perfectly into our values that we have as a team.
“And then we’re followed up the top, especially with these lighter circles are the players of the past, present and the future of the Thunder Nation. I think that’s pretty special.
“We’ve got a star here, which represents our aboriginal ancestors and all the dots surrounding us are the Thunder Nation that we’re super proud to have supporting us worldwide.”
The WBBL First Nations Round will continue this weekend, with all eight teams in action on Saturday at Adelaide Oval and Great Barrier Reef Arena, Mackay.
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