Lords' Dreaming, The Story of the 1868 Aboriginal Tour of England and beyond, by Ashley Mallett
Published by Souvenir Press in 2002, 221 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket (N1909)
Recommended retail price: £18.99
Brand New Book
In the early 1860s Charles Lawrence, an ex-Surrey and England player, had gone out to Australia with the first England team. While there he had witnessed on the sheep stations how incredibly skilled and accurate the aboriginal labourers were at hurling the boomerang and throwing a spear. Why not drill them in cricket and turn them into a 'curiosity' team? The legendary all-round sportsman Tom Wills began coaching them, but after a disastrous Australian tour, which led to the deaths of three players, Lawrence took over. In Melbourne there were moves to stop the tour. Lawrence pre-empted the Aboriginal Protection movement and on the pretext of going fishing he took his men to Queenscliff and had them rowed out to a ship en route for Sydney and from there they finally reached Gravesend on a fully rigged wool clipper.
The team's match against MCC at Lord's in June 1868 gave the tour momentum. They played all over England - 47 matches in all, winning 14, losing 14, drawing 19 - and winning the hearts of the spectators wherever they played. At the wicket they would greet the opening batsman with a collective whoop and a cheer. Their dexterity and speed were sensational. Dick-a-Dick (they were all given nicknames) became the tour's Artful Dodger, and off the pitch a marvel at deflecting balls thrown at him from 10 paces at a shilling a time. He was armed with a parrying shield and killer boomerang. Charley Dumas was also a wizard with the boomerang; Mosquito barely scored a run but was brilliant with the stock whip, as was Peter, while Johnny Cuzens could run like the wind. Johnny Mullagh, Cuzens and Lawrence were the star cricketers of the tour. Mullagh scored 1,698 runs and took 245 wickets, Lawrence - the only white in the team - 1,156 runs and 250 wickets; Cuzens 1,358 runs and 114 wickets.
Former Australian test player Ashley Mallett has dramatically reconstructed this important pioneering tour of England against a background of the aborigines' tragic history. He has also included the careers of later black players, including the famous fast bowler Eddie Gilbert who died tragically without fulfilling his potential.
Not only is this a cricketing story that reaches beyond boundaries, it is a remarkable tale of how Lawrence, from one old and established culture, came to lead people from the most ancient culture on earth. As such it will delight, and sometimes appal, both enthusiasts of cricketing history and all those interested in the more bizarre aspects of Victorian culture.
This book tells the facinating story of how a team of unknown aborigines became famous as the first Australian cricket team to tour England in 1868.