Faith Thomas was the first indigenous woman selected to play any sport for Australia. Faith was born in the Nepabunna Aboriginal mission in South Australia in 1933. Her mother, Ivy, was a traditional Adnyamathana woman from the Flinders Ranges, her father a German migrant. Ivy placed Faith in the hands of two missioners at the Colebrook Children’s home at Quorn because she felt it would be a better future for her daughter.
Faith played cricket, along with hockey and squash, while training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital to be a nurse. She was introduced to cricket by a work colleague and fell in love with the sport. She was selected into the South Australian cricket team after playing only two grade games in 1956. She qualified for the National team and selected to be the opening bowler in the 1958 Melbourne Test of the Ashes.
In 1960, Faith was eight months pregnant with her son when she played her final game of cricket for Australia. In 2004, she was still the only Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in cricket. Faith also played hockey for the Northern Territory.
Faith went on to continue her nursing and help people but her passion to capitalise upon the path she paved was never lost as she advocated for sporting opportunities for young Indigenous athletes her whole life.
Despite being perhaps the most critical figure in Australian cricket history, she is not a household name. 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.