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Henry, Albert (1880–1909)

by Ian Diehm

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Albert Henry (c.1880-1909), Aboriginal cricketer, was born at Lowood, Queensland. His parents were possibly Jagara or Jukambe people. At the age of 18 he moved from Nanango, in the Kingaroy district, to the Deebing Creek reserve, near Ipswich. Albert was a talented sprinter. He began his cricket career with the Deebing Creek Aboriginal team and by 1901 was playing for Bundamba in the Queensland Cricket Association competition. Tall, lithe and lean, he developed express pace as a right-arm fast bowler. His speed to the wicket came from his foot running, and his athleticism contributed to his brilliant fielding. Photographs of him showed a good-looking, elegant man with a fashionable moustache.

There was tremendous interest in Henry's selection for country against metropolitan Brisbane. His blistering speed—which forced the wicket-keeper to stand some sixty-six feet (20 m) behind the stumps—and figures of 3 for 61 ensured his selection for the match against New South Wales in March 1902. He was probably the first Aborigine to play first-class cricket for Queensland. On his début, Henry broke through early, then ran out a batsman when he diverted a drive onto the stumps at the bowler's end. Henry bowled his Aboriginal counterpart Jack Marsh who in turn dismissed him.

With his great speed, Henry was usually able to effect an early breakthrough. Most of his victims were clean bowled—the slip fielders were unable to hold on to catches from his bowling. He took part in all three matches for Queensland in the 1902-03 season, including a visit to Sydney, and in November 1903 represented the State against (Sir) Pelham Warner's England team. Henry's raw pace shocked the England opener Len Braund, who was caught off the last ball of Henry's first over and later claimed that it was the fastest bowling he had ever faced. During this season he was brought to live in South Brisbane to qualify for that electorate cricket team. The club secured the premiership; Henry made an important contribution to its success. In one match, however, the umpire Albert Cossart no-balled him for throwing, then reported him for dissent. The fiery cricketer was suspended for one month and missed Queensland's final game of the season.

Sent back to the Deebing Creek reserve, Henry resumed playing for Ipswich and competed in professional sprint races there and in Brisbane. He was omitted from the Queensland cricket team's southern tour to Melbourne and Sydney but was recalled in April 1905 for what proved to be his last match for the State. In seven first-class matches, Henry claimed 21 wickets at an average of 32.04 and scored 36 runs at 6.

Back at Deebing Creek, Henry was again under the strict control of the Queensland government, which treated any defiance as criminal behaviour. About 1908 he was removed to Barambah (Cherbourg), where he was imprisoned for one month 'for loafing, malingering and defying authority'. From there, he was sent to Yarrabah in northern Queensland, where he died of tuberculosis in March 1909 after a long stay in hospital.

Select Bibliography

  • E. H. Hutcheon, A History of Queensland Cricket (Brisb, 194?)
  • R. Webster, First-Class Cricket in Australia, vol 1 (Melb, 1991)
  • R. Cashman (ed), The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket (Melb, 1996)
  • B. Whimpress, Passport to Nowhere (Syd, 1999)
  • I. Diehm, Green Hills to the Gabba (Syd, 2000)
  • G. A. Blades, Australian Aborigines, Cricket and Pedestrianism 1880-1910 (B. Human Movement Hons thesis, University of Queensland, 1985).

Citation details

Ian Diehm, 'Henry, Albert (1880–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/henry-albert-12977/text23453, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 20 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

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