On a journey to connect with culture, Emma Manix-Geeves is an Indigenous woman from Tasmania who is paving her way as an Indigenous Australian cricketer.

The 20-year-old wicket-keeper/batter has been re-contracted to the Tasmanian Tigers in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) after a season off in 2020.

Growing up in Launceston, Manix-Geeves said she started playing cricket like all other Australian kids in the backyard or at the beach.

“I have two older brothers and a dad who was a massive cricket fan. He would play cricket every single weekend and we would run around the cricket club. Nan was in the canteen so it was a family affair down there,” Manix-Geeves told NIT.

Having no junior girls cricket team at the time, Manix-Geeves joined the boy’s team at age 10 and then eventually joined the girls league. Playing in both competitions, her career took off from there.

“I didn’t mind playing with the boys, I grew up playing with the boys so it didn’t bother me,” she said.

Manix-Geeves told NIT she has a couple of career highlights so far, one being her debut playing for Tasmania.

“My whole family flew over to watch me play which was special for me. Being a Tasmanian kid you always dream about playing for your State and playing with your idols and I was fortunate enough to do that,” she said.

Manix-Geeves also went on the 1868 commemoration tour to England which was a tribute to the 13 Aboriginal players who made the trip to the UK in 1868.

In 2018, 13 male players each represented one of the pioneers on the tour by displaying their names on the back of their uniforms. The female squad wore their own names as they were themselves were pioneers as the first female Indigenous team to tour the UK.

Manix-Geeves feels that Cricket Australia are on the right path to supporting their Indigenous players and taking the right steps in supporting Indigenous culture.

“[Cricket Australia] are doing well having an Indigenous Round and playing tops both on Big Bash and Australian level. They promote their Indigenous role models quite well in terms of Ash Gardner, Hannah Darlington and Dan Christian in the men’s space.”

NIT reached out to Cricket Australia to see what’s in store for NAIDOC Week and Courtney Hagen, First Nations and Social Inclusion Specialist, said cricket is committed to joining the conversation and playing a role in influencing change.

“Internally, we are very excited to be joined by Isaiah Dawe from I.D Know Yourself to address our staff and players in a yarn online. It’s a great way to continue learning about First Nations culture during NAIDOC Week,” Hagen told NIT.

“We are also taking this great opportunity to celebrate the heritage of our First Nations players through digital activations and we have lots of plans to continue the celebration throughout the upcoming season.

“Now is a very exciting time to be in cricket, with 11 First Nations players within the professional ranks, it’s only a matter of time before we see more mob picking up the game and donning the baggy green!”

The Tasmanian Tigers finished third in the 2020-21 season and are starting their pre-season training for the new season beginning in February 2022.

By Teisha Cloos