By Ashley Mallett. This book is written to commemorate the 1868 Aboriginal Cricket Tour of England. It is set in a time long ago when the attitudes were extremely different to today, and life was very different. However once again we witness how the good nature of the Aboriginal people was abused for other people’s financial gain.
As much as the book is a celebration of the tour and all that these men achieved, it is sad to see how they were also used for the financial gain of those behind the idea of the tour. None of the cricketers who went on that 1868 tour received any financial reward for their efforts.
This historical tour deserves to have far more recognition than it does in the history of the game in Australia. Many cricket fans are aware of the tour, but very few know more than the fact it took place, they played 47 matches, won 14 lost 14 and according to the author ‘had the better of many of the 19 draws.’
On the tour they were well looked after, but what a shock must have awaited them on their return to Australia, when from being feted in England and enjoying relative freedom, they were forced to live on reserves due to the implementation of the 1886 Aborigines Protection Act.
This book highlights once again the indignities that the Aboriginal people have had to endure and makes it understandable why many are mistrustful of cricket, and the way the game has treated their people.
It is a celebration of their achievements but never fails to remind the reader that these people were being used, and once back in Australia they were to all intents and purposes forgotten. All Rounder Johnny Mullagh one of the few to still be acknowledged all these years later. The ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Commission) XI play the Prime Minister’s XI annually for the Johnny Mullagh Cup.