Johnny Mullagh

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Johnny Mullagh, Unaarrimin
Johnny Mullagh.jpg
Personal information
Batting style Right-handed batsman (RHB)
Bowling style Right arm bowler
International information
National side
Career statistics
Competition Tests First-class
Matches - 1
Runs scored - 40
Batting average - 20.00
100s/50s - 0/0
Top score - 36
Balls bowled - 12
Wickets - 0
Bowling average - N/A
5 wickets in innings - 0
10 wickets in match - 0
Best bowling - 0/12
Catches/stumpings - 1c
Source: [1]

Johnny Mullagh (born Unaarrimin) (13 August 1841 – 14 August 1891) was a leading Victorian cricketer who led the famous 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England. He was a skilful all-rounder, being a right arm bowler and right-handed batsman.

Born Unaarrimin (he was given the name 'Mullagh' to identify him with his place of birth), a member of the Jardwadjali people, on Mullagh Station, about sixteen kilometres north of Harrow, Victoria, Mullagh learned to play cricket whilst working on the adjoining Pine Hills agricultural property. He was given the name "Black Johnny" to distinguish him from a "White Johnny".

Mullagh played 47 matches on the 1868 England tour, scoring 1698 runs at an average of around 20 on pitches that were often treacherous. [2]. He also bowled 1877 overs, 831 of which were maidens, and took 245 wickets at 10 apiece. If this weren't enough, he would occasionally don wicket-keeping gloves, achieving four stumpings.

Few contemporary cricketers better merited the title of all-rounder. His performances were impressive enough for him to join the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) as a professional, although he did not remain there for long.

Nineteenth century Australia witnessed severe discrimination against indigenous peoples. Many of those chosen to tour England were left to obscure futures and early deaths once the venture had concluded. One Player, King Cole, died on the trip and of those who returned, seven spent time on a reserve, two vanished and the fate of two others is not clear from the surviving records.

Mullagh was both an independent person and a passionate advocate of indigenous rights, refusing to dwell on state-controlled reserves. His political stance was revealed during a game at Apsley, when, as the players went to lunch, a white participant asked, "What about the nigger?" The captain replied, "Let him have his dinner in the kitchen; anything is good enough for the nigger." Mullagh refused to eat in the kitchen, and sat outside the hotel in protest.

Mullagh never appeared in inter-colonial cricket although he did represent Victoria against a touring England side in 1879, top scoring with 36 in the second innings. He was then 38 years old, and instead of going in first-wicket-down as he did for his club, batted at nine and 10.

Maintaining his independence and dignity to the end, Mullagh spent his last days living in a rabbitter's shack. He continued to play cricket until a few months before his death at Pine Hills Station in 1891, one day after his 50th birthday. The Hamilton Spectator described him in his obituary as "the [W.G.] Grace of aboriginal cricketers", while another writer referred to Mullagh as "Victoria's premier batsman".[1]

A memorial was built to honour Mullagh in Harrow and a local indigenous tournament created to vie for the Johnny Mullagh Memorial Trophy.

On Friday 17 February 2012, The Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jeanette Powell, announced Mullagh as one of the 20 inaugural inductees to the The Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll.

See also[edit]

  • Twopenny - Aboriginal Australian who played for New South Wales against Victoria in 1870
  • Albert Henry - Aboriginal Australian who played for Queensland from 1902 to 1905
  • Eddie Gilbert - Aboriginal Australian who played for Queensland from 1930 to 1936

References[edit]

  1. ^ Old 'un, "An Old Time Team of Darkies", Euroa Advertiser, 2 April 1897, p. 3.

External links[edit]