Almanac Cricket: An Indigenous 11?

We have just gone past the fiftieth anniversary of the referendum that finally included the First Australians in the census, (though they’ve been in this land since time immemorial) as well as giving the Federal Government power to make laws on their behalf. Prior to that the States oversaw all laws re the First Australians.


The fiftieth anniversary on May 27 coincided with the AFL’s Sir Douglas Nicholl’s round, a round celebrating the great contributions Indigenous players have made to our game. As well as the role the AFL plays in this regard, the NRL has also taken action highlighting the role of indigenous players, in their code. Good stuff. But what about the other big established sporting code in Australia: cricket? Here it’s a sad tale.


I thought I’d try to compile team of indigenous players who have played first class cricket in Australia. It’s not like there’s no links between cricket and the Aboriginal community. The first Australian team to tour overseas was back in 1868 when 13 indigenous cricketers from the West of Victoria  toured England, long before a team of white fellows represented Australia. Any how, I can’t put together a team of 11 indigenous players who have turned out at first class level in Australia!


My research gives me the following names. Jason Gillespie, the test, fast bowler from South Australia. There’s also Dan Christian the all rounder who played for South Australia and Victoria, carried the drinks once at test level, as well as playing quite a few ODI’s and T20’s. Then we struggle to find more names. Roger Brown a medium pacer for Tasmania back in the 1980s, Jeff Cook, who played for rural NSW but not the shield side, however he turned out for Northamptonshire in English county cricket. Then we go back to Ian King a fast medium bowler for Queensland in 1969-70. Prior to Ian King, there was another Queensland pace man, Eddie Gilbert, whose sad story is a reflection of how indigenous Australians were often treated. The twentieth century opened with another Queensland pace man Albert Herman, as well Jack Marsh a quick bowler from NSW. Not even 11 players indigenous players have played first class cricket in a land they’ve been here for 50-60,000 years.


How does Australian cricket repair this situation? Answers any one; is it about Aboriginal participation, or something other? Whatever it is, we need to acknowledge White Australia has a Black history.





  1. Shane John Backx says

    John MaGuire in the 80s was indigenous apparantly.

  2. Les Everett says

    I think you’re thinking of a different John McGuire.

    This John McGuire made lots of runs in the WACA comp but never quite made it into the Shield team. He was also a brilliant footballer – premiership player with East Perth in 1978.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Glen, what an appallingly small list. Really hope it gets bigger, and soon!
    While not a first-class team, I wonder how many indigenous players have represented the Northern Territory?
    Former AFL player Adrian McAdam is one player I know of that has.

  4. James Lang says

    In the current crop of domestic cricketers there’s Josh Lalor from New South Wales, who’s also been a BBL journeyman with the Thunder, Sixers and the Brisbane Heat. Whilst the most recent indigenous international player would be Ashleigh Gardner who also plays for New South Wales and the Sydney Sixers.

    But sadly the overall numbers have been few and far between and are not reflective of those in the AFL, so there is definitely a lot of work to be done.

    But if it’s resources properly, the results can be achieved

  5. Rabid Dog says

    The treatment meted out to Eddie Gilbert was a travesty, however teh prime driver is an untouchable, so the true story (like that between him and Tiger Bill) will never (publicly) come out.

  6. Shane John Backx says

    Les Everett, different John Maguire. I’m talking about the Qld fast medium bowler who funnily enough for a person of indigenous heritage, took the money and went on the rebel Sth African tour in 1985.

  7. Thanks for the comments fellow ‘k’nackers.

    Rabid Dog, correct me if i’m wrong but there’s a tale that ‘The Don’ attended Eddie Gilbert’s funeral. It might be totally apocryphal, though a tad intriguing.

    ‘The Don’, was possibly the greatest sporting figure of the 20th century but as a person …. ?


  8. Les Everett says

    Shane I know the John Maguire you mean… is he Indigenous?

    Meanwhile the John McGuire story should explain a lot Glen.

  9. Shane John Backx says

    I read recently he is part thereof, which I didnt know. He is also a cousin of ex Test player Phil Carlson.

  10. G’day Les, i read the article.

    Pretty powerful. 24 players have scored more than 7,000 runs in Perth grade cricket but only one: John McGuire, not deemed worthy of a state spot. It say something. As do the stories re Eddie Gilbert, Jack Marsh and Albert Herman.


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