Dubbo pair Ben Patterson and Brock Larance honoured to be part of 'surreal' Aboriginal XI tour

HONOUR: Ben Patterson and Brock Larance depart for the UK on Friday. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE
HONOUR: Ben Patterson and Brock Larance depart for the UK on Friday. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

Ask Ben Patterson and Brock Larance what it’s like to be a part of the men’s Aboriginal XI squad and you get the same answer.

“It’s surreal.”

The Dubbo stars were both late call-ups for the squad which departs for a historic tour of the UK on Friday, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1868 Aboriginal team which made the same trip.

The 1868 team was the first Australian sporting team of any kind to tour overseas.

Both the men’s and women’s squads will play numerous matches in the coming weeks and both are littered with first-class players and a handful of those who have represented their country.

The men’s squad is captained by Dan Christian and when promising duo D’Arcy Short and Brendan Doggett pulled out after being named in the Australia A squad, the Dubbo pair got the call.

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“I didn’t know if it was serious of not,” Larance, 16, said of the call.

“It took a little while to sink in but I’ve never been so happy.

“I didn’t know too much about it but I’ve done some research and seen the significance of it all and it’s a very important thing.”

The significance of the trip isn’t lost on 20-year-old Patterson.

As a tribute to the 1868 side, the men’s team will wear the names of the original squad members on the back of their playing uniforms during the tour.

“It’s special having a name given from the original tour,” Patterson said.

“I’ll have ‘Sundown’ and he scored his first ever run in any type of cricket whatsoever over there. He played three matches then went home sick with TB (tuberculosis).

“Hopefully I can repeat the one good statement he made which was that it was his greatest batting tour ever.”

LEADERS: Ash Gardner and Dan Christian will captain the respective Aboriginal XI squads. Photo: DOMINIC LORRIMER

LEADERS: Ash Gardner and Dan Christian will captain the respective Aboriginal XI squads. Photo: DOMINIC LORRIMER

Making the tour even the more incredible for Patterson and Larance is the fact a game of cricket was the furthest thing from their minds up until a few weeks ago.

Patterson was considering a move to Newcastle to pursue a potential kickboxing career while after an amazingly busy summer which included playing for the Australian under 16s, Larance just wanted some time away from the game.

“This brought me back,” Patterson said, and Larance echoed that sentiment.

“When you’re tired, there’s some that can make you want to play cricket again and playing for your country is one of those things,” he said.

Patterson, one of the fastest bowlers in the western region and arguably the cleanest hitter of a ball, and Larance, who has already confirmed himself as one of the most promising batsmen and teenage spinners in the country, aren’t expecting a mountain of game-time but both are eager to take any chance they get.

The men's team will open the tour against the Marleybone Cricket Club at the picturesque Arundel Castle while the highlight of the campaign will be a double header at The Oval on June 7. 

Both squads will play matches against Surrey, Sussex, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire at the same venues the 1868 side played at, along with The Oval and Trent Bridge.

“This will be something I’ll remember forever,” Larance said.

“Dan Christian has played for Australia, Scott Boland too. Half the team have (Sheffield) Shield contracts so it’s a high-profile group of cricketers and we’re playing county teams who will have international players.

Words can’t explain it. It’s not everyday you’re 16 and get to fly to England with the Australian Indigenous men’s side and play county teams for two weeks and experience these things. It’s special.”

Patterson agreed, stating this is the highlight of his career, one which has included a previous tour of the England, playing for the Australian indoor cricket side in South Africa, and countless representative matches.

FIXTURES

Men's

5th June – Aboriginal XI v Marylebone CC at Arundel Castle

7th June – Aboriginal XI v Surrey at The Oval

8th June – Aboriginal XI v Sussex at the First Central County Ground

10th June – Aboriginal XI v Derbyshire at the County Ground

12th June – Aboriginal XI v Nottinghamshire at Loughborough

Women's

7th June – Aboriginal XI v Surrey at The Oval

8th June – Aboriginal XI v Sussex at the First Central County Ground

10th June – Aboriginal XI v National Cricket Conference at the County Ground

12th June – Aboriginal XI v ECB Academy at Loughborough

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