A competition that helped mould some of Australia’s best Big Bash League players is underway in Alice Springs.

The National Indigenous Cricket Championships (NICC) has seen international stars Ash Gardner, Dan Christian and D’Arcy Short take part in years gone by and now scouts are hoping to find the next crop of talent.

Seven men’s and six women’s teams are in the Top End for the T20 Tournament which will run until February 11th after getting underway on Sunday.

“Ash Gardner was player of the final in the recent Women’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean where Australia won a record fourth World T20 title and D’Arcy Short continues to dominate the KFC Big Bash League, leading the total runs scored in the tournament for the second successive year. Both were proud participants at previous championships,” Kieran McMillan, a Cricket Australia spokesperson, said.

Sixty-five thousand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricketers are registered in leagues across the country and the top athletes have been selected to take part in the NICC.

The competition is in its fourth consecutive year and this year it’s being played alongside the Imparja Cup, a competition for Indigenous cricketers from the Northern Territory.

The festival of Indigenous cricket was meant to include a Big Bash League match between the Adelaide Strikers and the Perth Scorchers at Traeger Park in Alice Springs, but the ground was last week deemed unfit for professional cricket.

That match has now been moved to Adelaide.

Alice Springs Town Council’s Mayor Damien Ryan said a heatwave stunted the growth of grass that had been recently planted.

“Our problem has been … the number of days in excess of 40 degrees and the heat in the ground. And that seed just hasn’t taken,” he said.

The disappointment has not stopped the tournament from charging ahead with a festival atmosphere.

Queensland player Courtney Hagan said the chance to mix with other cricketers after the match was just as important as the games.

“I think it’s quite good that everyone gets to not only play and represent their mob, but they get to have a yarn afterwards as well and get to know each other and it just creates such a friendly environment,” she said.

A documentary commissioned by Cricket Australia called Walkabout Wickets, will be screened at the Flynn Church Lawns on Thursday night, ahead of its debut on Channel 7 this weekend.

By Keiran Deck