Cricket revival in the remote outback

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There was hardly a wicket stump to be seen when Marcus Maher first arrived in Tennant Creek, a remote town in Northern Territory. Today, the town boasts a thriving cricket community.

This cricket community includes a mixture of junior and women’s teams, an established association and an Imparja Cup victory.

Marcus said the town’s cricket revival began as an opportunity to have a sport to play during summer, and to promote a positive social atmosphere within the community.

“Everyone talked about how cricket used to be such a big thing in Tennant Creek in the 70s and 80s, so we wanted to relive that part of history. Everyone was eager to get cricket rolling again.”

Prior to the annual Rossy Williams Shield seven-a-side competition, Tennant Creek didn’t have a regular seasoned cricket competition for nearly 20 years. But the two-day competition soon brought indigenous and non-indigenous boys and girls from remote stations to play.

Marcus said that families and adults were driving 500 kilometres to Alice Springs for their children to play cricket, making it a 1,000-kilometre round trip – a sheer reflection of their dedication.

Marcus said the success and interest in the Rossy Williams Shield competition inspired him to create a more long-term program.

“Everyone was talking about a team to play in. However, in a remote area it can be quite hard to sustain associations due to people coming and going.”

With the lack of outdoor oval space, and as a means to gauge interest for regular games of cricket, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation launched an indoor cricket competition. They then progressed to an outdoor competition on tennis courts.

Through Marcus’ role as the sport and recreation manager for the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, he applied for grants through the Northern Territory Government and the local shire to successfully install the first permanent wicket in the town.

The town now has an official Tennant Creek Cricket Association with committee members to help sustain the competition, but Marcus has since left the community to move back to his hometown in country Victoria.

“I still keep a close eye on the program I helped create and hope the momentum of the current community will continue and be sustained into the future,” he said.