It was great to see during the Adelaide test match that Jason Gillespie, the first indigenous Australian to play cricket for Australia was recognised with the unveiling of a statue in his honour during a ceremony on day three of the Second Ashes Test. The statue was sculpted by artist Ken Martin.
Gillespie took 259 wickets in 71 Tests at an average of 26.13, although he will forever be remembered for his unbeaten 201 as a nightwatchman against Bangladesh in 2006. He was man of the series against Bangladesh, but never played for Australia again. He retired from all forms of cricket in 2008.
It is good to see him acknowledged and that Cricket Australia were involved in the ceremony. Hopefully this may well prompt them to right one wrong in relation to Australian Indigenous cricket.
Eddie Gilbert is still without doubt one of the most famous indigenous cricketers. There are many apocryphal stories about the Queensland quick bowler, but he will always be remembered for knocking the bat out of the hands of the World’s greatest batsman at the time, Don Bradman.
The date was the 6th November 1931 in a match against New South Wales in Brisbane. He had dismissed opener Wendell Bill for a duck with his first ball. The New South Wales number three was Don Bradman. His next delivery was so quick that it knocked the bat from Bradman’s hands. Bradman was then caught behind for a third ball duck.
Years later Bradman recalled that the six deliveries he faced from Gilbert in that match were the fastest he had experienced in his career.
Gilbert died at the Wolston Park Hospital near Brisbane on 9 January 1978, aged 72. He had suffered many years of ill health due to alcoholism and mental illness. Although the papers covered his death and recalled his feats with the ball, he was buried in an unmarked grave.
It would be nice to see Cricket Australia recognize his outstanding feats by at least giving him the dignity of a gravestone, and acknowledging his cricketing feats for future generations of indigenous sportspeople.