Thomas, who died aged 90, was praised for her “groundbreaking contribution” to cricket.
The first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in sport has been hailed for her “groundbreaking contribution” to cricket after her death aged 90.
Faith Thomas (née Coulthard) became the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in a Test match against England in Melbourne in 1958, and in the process, Cricket Australia said on Monday, she was the first to represent an Australian sporting team Women in battle.
A formidable fast bowler who trained as a nurse before learning about women playing organized cricket, she began her career when a colleague invited her to play in Adelaide. club game.
After just three matches, Thomas was selected to represent South Australia and played her first Test the following year.
She was selected to travel to England and New Zealand, but daunted by the prospect of far voyages, Thomas devoted herself instead to nursing, becoming one of the first Aboriginal nurses.
She died on Saturday, with Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley lauding her “wonderful and groundbreaking contribution to cricket and the community”.
“This is a very sad day for all those who were fortunate enough to know her or were touched by her many achievements,” he added.
“As the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in Test cricket, Faith inspired those who follow and she left an indelible mark on the game.”
In a tribute on Twitter, Aboriginal cricketer Hannah Darlington, who plays for the Sydney Thunder, hailed Thomas as a “true pioneer”.
This lady paved the way for Indigenous cricketers like myself to dream of playing cricket for Australia. A true pioneer who will be deeply missed ❤️ https://t.co/sYuoLUzegl
— Hannah Darlington (@HDarlington28) April 17, 2023
Cricket reporter and broadcaster Melinda Farrell, who interviewed Thomas, said she was “absolutely nuts, a true force of nature” and loved to tell stories.
Saddened to hear of the passing of Faith Thomas. I have had the pleasure of interviewing her several times. She’s an absolute cookie, a true force of nature. She likes to talk about the time in 1958 when she pitched the England captain and stumps flew over the keeper’s head. 1/2
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) April 17, 2023
Born in 1933 to an Aboriginal mother and a German father, Thomas was brought up by her mother in the Colebrook Aboriginal Children’s Home in Quorn, South Australia.
As a child, she played cricket on dirt roads, often with makeshift bats made of wood and stone. She joked that her amazing stride came from throwing stones at Galas as a child.
She played her last club cricket game in the early 1960s when she concentrated on her work as a nurse and midwife in remote and deprived communities.
“Faith Thomas’ story is both inspiring and unbelievable,” said South Australian Cricket Association Chairman William Rayner.
“As a leader in medicine, sport, reconciliation and more, Aunty Faith created a footsteps that others have had the opportunity to follow in the decades since. Aunty Faith was a very unique and successful cricketer, and her journey It’s never just about personal achievement—instead, she’s always looking for ways to improve the lives of others.”
Only four Aboriginal cricketers have played Test cricket, with Jason Gillespie being the most successful. Others include Scott Boland and Ashleigh Gardner.
Thomas was awarded an Order of Australia for outstanding service or achievement in 2009 and was retroactively awarded a baggy green cap as the 48th Australian woman to play Test cricket.
The Adelaide Strikers honor her every year by playing for the Faith Thomas Trophy in the Women’s Big Bash League. She was also recognized as a legend of the sport on the Walk of Honor at the Adelaide Oval.