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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7288

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER LAUNCHING OF "CRICKET WALKABOUT" BY JOHN MULVANEY AND REX HARCOURT KIRRIBILLI HOUSE - 12 JANUARY 1988

Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/02/1988

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7288

I
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
SPEECH DY THE PRIME MINISTER
LAUNCHING OF ' CRICKET WALKA. BOUT'
BY JOHN MULVANEY AND REX HARCOURT
XIRRIBILLI HOUSE 12 JANUARY 1988
With the Aboriginal Cricket Team making final preparations
for its 1988 tour of England, and on the eve of what should
be a thoroughly enjoyable match at Manly tomorrow, it 16 my
ver~ great pleasure to launch ' Cricket walkabout' by
Poessor John Mulvaney and Rex Harcourt, which tell's the
story of the Aboriginal cricket tour, of 1868.
Macmillan are to be congratulated on this timely
publication, which I am very pleased to see has been brought
out in association with the Department of Aboriginal
Affairs. ' Cricket walkabout' makes an invaluable contribution to
Australia's social history and Its sporting history. With
great scholarship, John Mulvaney and Rex Harcourt have
brought~ to life Australian colonial society and the Western
Victorian milieu from which the'players came.
They do not disguise the brutality which marked the race
relations of that era and which was particularly bad in the
Western Districts in the decades leading up to 1868.
Aboriginal social conditions, including health, were
deplorable. Three members of a team who toured Sydney in
1867 died, directly or indirectly, as a result of the tour.
One member of the 1868 team died in England.
' Cricket walkabout' describes how cricket grew up as a
popular game among the Aborigines of western Victoria. The
conditions in which they played cricket were most
rudimentary. For example, Johnny Cuzens, one of the stars
of the tour, learned to bat with a hurdle bar. 003866

2.
All of this makes the achievements of the men of 1868 the
more remarkable. Their tour began with an eight-day journey
by waggon from Edenhope to warrnambool and a secret v e
departure off Port Phillip Heads for Sydney, in order to
circumvent well-meaning attempts to keep them at home.
While in Sydney, the team stayed on the beach at MIanl y, at
the Pier Hotel owned by one of the tour organiser s, Charles
Lawrence, who also captained the side. George Smith of
Manly, later a prominent figure in local politics in Sydney#
was another backer, who accompanied the team on its tour of
England. An Aboriginal team had in fact played at Manly in
March the previous year and Smith had played in the Manly
side.
After a few games in-Sydney, the team sailed for England on
the wool clipper, ' Parramatta', on 8 February and arrived
three months later. So began the first tour of England by
an Australian cricket team.
As Mulvaney and Harcourt point out, one reco ird established
by the Aboriginal tourists is certain -to remain unsurpassed.
Al though reduced to a mere 11 fit players during the tour,
between their first match at the Oval on 25 May and their
last engagement on the same ground on 15 to 17 October, the
players were in the field 99 days out of a possible 126, and
they ranged almost as widely over the countries as is the
practice of modern cricket tourist&. Their 47 matches were
played in 40 centres, across 15 countries.
Let me quote what ' Cricket Walkabout' has to say about the.
general circumstances of the tour%
" Playing conditions more rigorous than those faced by
modern touring sides also imposed difficulties and added
stthrearien . w ereW himloer e maoft chtehse m, n owrhmiaclhl y adldaesdt edt o onthley ttwiom e dasypse, n't
travelling, often in uncomfortable vehicles and delays
were prolonged while waiting for transport connections.
The houirs of play were longer also than at present.
Play began at 11 am or noon and usually continued until
7 pm or later. The addition of sporting exhibitions to
the Aborigines' programme must have involved even longer
hours. There were no tea breaks and the only interval
was for lunch, a 35-minute period at some time between
2 and13gpm. Most grounds did not provide special. I
catering faclities for the players who had to take
their chance with the crowd which thronged refreshment
tents. if he was lucky, a player emerged with beer and
sandwiches." 003867

q! t 3.
The pressures placed on the team's stronger players were
remarkable. Johnny Mullagh and Johnny Cuzens played in
and 46 matches respectively. With Charles Lawrence, the
team's English captain, they bowled 4234 of the team's 4983
four-ball overs. These three bagged 609 out of 714 wickets
taken. They also did the bulk of the wicket-keeping between
them, something even Gary Sobers, with his all-round
talents, did only rarely.
In the batting, Mullagh and Cuzens, with Lawrence, also
provided the strength. All three scored over 1000 runs on
toue with Sullagh achieving nearly 1700 runG at the best
team average of 23/ 65. Cuzens scored more than 50 on nine
occasions and Mullagh on eight.
Mulvaney and Harcourt examine in detail the question of just
how good the 1868 team was. They put the tour in the
overall context of the evolution of cricket in the middle of
the last century. The Aboriginal team arrived in England
just when the rules and practice of the game were in a state
of flux. Grounds and pitches were frequently in appalling
condition. My team will be batting 12 tomorrow but in those
days it was common for any number of players to be included
in teams which were often also unequal in size.
The capacities of the tourists obviously fluctuated widely
but, from the authors' analysis, it is quite clear that
Mullagh and Cuzens were class cricketers by any standards.
The redoubtable W. G. Grace praised them for their " very good
all-round form" and their " conspicuous skill at the game"
and although he did not play against them, he included a
photograph of the team in his memoirs.
An idea of mullagh's ability can be seen from an innings he
played more than a decade and a half after the English tour.
Mulvaney and Harcourt record that he opened the batting for
a Western Districts side in Adelaide against Norwood, for
whom George Giffen, the great Test Bowler, bowled unchanged,
taking 6 wickets. Johnny Mullagh carried his bat for 43 not
out in a total of 116.
John Mulvaney and Rex Harcourt have done Australian history
and Australian cricket a magnificent service in writing this
book. When the first edition came out 20 years ago to
celebrate the 100th anniversary of the tour, the book and
its subjects may not have received the recognition they
deserved. 003868

P 4.
Now, in 1988, with some corrections and additional material
and I am delighted to learn of bill O'Reilly's role in
providing valuable archival documentation this revised
edition, coming out in conjunction with the forthcoming tour
will, I am sure, make a big impact and do something to give
Mullagh, Cuzens, Bullocky, Dick-a-Dick, Redcap and their
fellows the place in our history which is rightly theirs.
Aboriginal people indeed all Australians should feel
pride in the success and character of the first Australian
cricketers to tour England.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate Mark Ella, ian
King and John McGuire and the players, organisers and
sponsors of the 1988 Aboriginal tour on the splendid venture
they have undertaken. You will be great Ambassadors for
Australia and I am very pleased to note that Colin Moynihan,
the British Minister for Sport, has expressed his support
for the tour.
I would also like to thank the distinguished Australian
cricketers, past and present, who have agreed to offer their
services in tomorrow's match for the Trinity Bay Cup, to
which I am looking forward with great enthusiasm. am sure
that the game will provide an unforgettable opportunity for
the Aboriginal crick eters to play with them and the public
at Manly to see them.
And finally, may I also express my appreciation to Mayor
Joan Cooke, Greg Smith and other representatives of the
Manly community, who have shown such goodwill and
imagination in putting on the match. 003869

Transcript 7288