Indigenous History


(Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following section contains images of deceased persons).

Queensland has had a long history of Indigenous cricket, although it has largely been based around the success of individuals.

According to research done by Professor Colin Tatz for the Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, four of the Indigenous cricketers who have played first class cricket in Australia have come from Queensland.

The four Queenslanders to achieve this were Albert ( Alec ) Henry (1901-02 to 1904-05), Eddie Gilbert (1930-31 to 1935-36), Ian King (1969-70) and Michael Mainhardt (1980-81 and 1982-83).

Albert Henry (right) was a fast bowler who lived on the Deebing Creek Reserve near Ipswich and was the first Aboriginal cricketer to play first class cricket in Australia.Albert Henry

He played seven games for Queensland, taking 21 wickets 32.04 with a best of 5-40. First class opportunities were limited for him, with Queensland not being a part of the Sheffield Shield competition during that time.

He was reportedly an outstanding fielder who was also a renowned athlete and rugby union player. A dispute with the authorities at Deebing Creek saw him removed to the settlements of Barambah (later known as Cherbourg) and then Yarrabah where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 29.

Eddie Gilbert was a fast bowler who came to the attention of the then Queensland Cricket Association while living at the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement.

In 1930 he came to Brisbane for trials, having gained permission to travel from the Aboriginal Protector. He was selected for Queensland Colts and then made his first class debut against South Australia in Brisbane.

A bowler capable of extreme pace, despite a short four or five pace run-up, Gilbert played 23 games between 1930-31 and 1935-36 in a career interrupted by injury and a leprosy outbreak at Cherbourg that saw him miss the entire 1933-34 season.

Gilbert's most famous moment came when he had Don Bradman caught behind for a fifth-ball duck in 1931, a spell of bowling that 'The Don' later classed as the fastest he had ever faced.

Eddie GilbertGilbert was no-balled by umpire A.N. Barlow in a match in Melbourne in 1931 for a suspect bowling action and had to battle suspicions about his bowling for the rest of his career, which saw him take 87 wickets at 28.97, including six five-wicket hauls.

His life after cricket was hard and he died in 1978. An excellent biography on Gilbert was published in 2002 which contains a thorough study of the man and the legend that grew up around him. (Eddie Gilbert: The True Story of an Aboriginal Cricketing Legend. By Mike Colman and Ken Edwards. Published by ABC Books)

The memory of Eddie Gilbert has been used to spearhead a campaign to develop other cricketers in Aboriginal communities throughout Queensland and the Torres Strait.

The Eddie Gilbert Cricket Program was launched early in 1998 at Woorabinda in Central Queensland and included coaching and development activities for adults and children as well as Cricket 8s matches.

It continues to the present day, concentrating on Indigenous communities especially in Far North Queensland where members of the program from the Gulf region enjoyed the chance to meet members of the Australian team in 2003 during the Cairns Test match at Cazaly's Stadium.

It is the ambition of Queensland Cricket that the program provides the catalyst for the next generation of Indigenous cricketers, and hopefully another who can equal or surpass the great Eddie Gilbert.

Another fast bowler, Ian King, emerged to play for Queensland in 1969-70. A late starter to cricket, he enjoyed a professional boxing career under the name of Young Rainbow, winning 28 of his 32 fights as a welterweight. Born in Brisbane, he played grade cricket in Bankstown in Sydney before moving back to Brisbane, where his descendents had lived on Stradbroke Island. He took 30 wickets at 28.56 in eight games for Queensland and also took five domestic one-day wickets in the season. Personal issues meant that he was not considered again for Queensland and he subsequently lived in WA and the ACT where the successfully took up coaching. He was the coach of the 1988 Aboriginal Cricket team which toured England, re-enacting the original 1868 tour by the first Australian team to visit England.

Michael Mainhardt was also a fast-medium bowler who enjoyed a distinguished career with Norths in the Brisbane Grade competition between 1978-79 and 1990-91, taking more than 300 wickets. Descended from the South Seas Islanders (Kanakas) who were brought to Queensland to work in the cane fields during the 1800s, he played three first class games between 1980-81 and 1982-83 and three domestic one-day games between 1982-83 and 1986-87. He toured England with the 1988 Aboriginal Cricket team. He has continued to be involved with Norths and currently coaches the club.

In addition to the male players listed above, Queensland also had two noted female Indigenous players, cousins Edna Crouch and Mabel Campbell.Pat Fraser

The duo came from Stradbroke Island and played in the Queensland women's team that took on the touring England women's team in 1934-35.

Campbell, who played between 1934 and 1936, was a skilful batter while Crouch, who played between 1934 and 1938, was a spin bowler.

Campbell and Crouch were both made members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Hall of Fame.

Edna Crouch's niece, Thelma Crouch, represented an Australian Women's Youth team against England in 1940 and also played for Queensland between 1948-49 and 1953-54. Thelma Crouch is a Life Member of Queensland Women's Cricket.

In the 1990s, three Indigenous women, Debbie Walford, Denise Marsh and Pat Fraser (right), represented Queensland.

Pat played 18 games, between 1990 and 1992 and again in the 1996-97 season, taking nine wickets and scoring 131 runs.

Debbie played 11 games between 1990 and 1992, taking 14 wickets and scoring 144 runs.

The Toowoomba-based Denise Marsh was an allrounder who played four matches between 1990 and 1991.

The inaugural Indigenous Cricket Advisory Committee Queensland was officially launched at the Multicultural Cricket day during the ING Cup match between the XXXX Queensland Bulls and Tasmania in 2003.

ATSIC Commissioner Robbie Williams, the Federal Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Gary Hardgrave MP, and Queensland Cricket Chairman Damien Mullins SC were present at the Gabba.

The inaugural ICACQ was: Larry Budd (Brisbane, Chairperson), Adrian Coolwell (Bris North), Alex Woodcock (FNQ), Barry Weare (FNQ), Cody Ratcliffe (NQ), Frank Malone (Wide Bay), Jason Smith (CQ), Joe Marsh (Wide Bay), Karen Collins (Ipswich), Keith Charles (Toowoomba), Peter Jackson (Toowoomba), John Forrest (Queensland Cricket Board), Mark McLatchey, Nev Paulsen (Queensland Cricket).

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