Another feather in Faith Thomas' baggy green

Faith Thomas awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to cricket and the Indigenous community.


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PIONEER: Faith Thomas with her good friend Joan McDonald at the Wami Kata Old Folks home in Port Augusta.

PIONEER: Faith Thomas with her good friend Joan McDonald at the Wami Kata Old Folks home in Port Augusta.

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Faith Thomas's down-to-earth attitude comes after a lifetime of trailblazing.

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RECEIVING an Order of Australia honour hasn't inflated the ego of the legendary Faith Thomas.

"Just another day more or less," she said with a smirk on her face.

Fellow Wami Kata residents listen on with disbelief as she reminisces about her long list of achievements, but 86-year-old Faith remains relatively blazé about it all.

"That sounds like our Faith," the staff joke.

Faith's down-to-earth attitude comes after a lifetime of trail-blazing.

At just 25-years-old she was selected for the South Australian cricket team after playing only two grade games.

BAGGY GREEN: Faith was a member of the Aboriginal Sports Foundation, patron of the Prime Minister's XI versus the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Chairman's XI.

BAGGY GREEN: Faith was a member of the Aboriginal Sports Foundation, patron of the Prime Minister's XI versus the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Chairman's XI.

In 1958 she became the first Aboriginal, male or female, to play test cricket for Australia - she was also the first Aboriginal female to represent Australia in any sport.

"The first person I bowled out was the captain of the women's cricket team," Faith said.

"She just sat on the pitch and laughed. She said she had never seen a ball go so fast."

Faith credits her 'magic arm' to her upbringing at the Colebrook Aboriginal Children's Mission in Quorn.

Growing up the kids would play cricket using stones as balls and making their own bats from wood they had found.

Although she was also an avid squash and hockey player, Faith's greatest achievement in life was not sport related.

It came after completing her studies in midwifery and general practice nursing.

Faith was among the first five Aboriginal nurses in South Australia and was the state's first Aboriginal public servant.

She was also in charge of the native ward at the Alice Springs hospital for two years, delivering so many babies that parents began naming their children after her.

"That's the part of my life I feel really proud about," Faith said.

"Cricket is just a sport, but I have looked after a lot of Aboriginal people. It's really special."

In fact, Faith gave up her cricketing career after just three short years.

She was picked to go to England and New Zealand but ultimately her nursing career was more important.

She went on to pursue her passion in health care, while continuing to advocate for sporting opportunities for other young Indigenous athletes.

Faith hopes this award will continue to inspire female athletes and other Indigenous leaders in the community to continue breaking boundaries.

Cricket

  • Co-Chair, Aboriginal Cricket Advisory Committee, South Australian Cricket Association, since 2015.
  • Patron, Prime Minister's XI vs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Chairman's XI, 2002.
  • Member, International Women's Cricket Team, England vs Australia, 1958.
  • Member, International Women's Cricket Team, NZ vs Australia, 1957.

Sport

  • Past Member, National Aboriginal Sports Foundation.
  • Past Member, Australian Sports Foundation.
  • Member, Alice Springs Hockey Team, 1959-1961.
  • Foundation Member and player, Inlanders Hockey Team, 1968-1974.

Community

  • Member, Port Augusta Community Engagement Group, since 2011.
  • Past Member, Aboriginal Affairs Board, South Australian Government.

Awards and recognition includes:

  • Inductee, Avenue of Honour - Wall of Fame, South Australian Cricket Association.
  • The Faith Thomas Trophy is presented to the winner of the Adelaide Strikers' home WBBL game against Perth Scorchers.

The Transcontinental

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