One Day Hill
Date of publication February 2015
Reviewer Neville Sandon
The delight is that in the 1890s there was a tall Aboriginal boy, Johnny Mullagh. The disappointment is that there is no replay to watch him on the cricket pitch, with a bat, or on the field whether in Australia or in England.
Not much is known about cricket in Australia in the 19th century which makes it all the more interesting – not only for our developing cricket strengths against England – the “mother country” but of who was involved.
One such is an Aboriginal boy, Unaarramin or Johnny Mullagh from Mullagh Station who came to prominence 15 years before Test Cricket started. Mullagh Station was is in country West Victoria.
Read a series of brief fictionalised stories – told from the son of the squatter perspective – interspersed with some elements of truth, gleaned from newspaper clippings and historical documents. Johnny was stood out for two reasons. First, how hard was it for an aboriginal young man to be playing cricket in the late 1800’s – especially when being black attracted all sorts of discriminating behaviour and racist comments all his life. Second, what is interesting is his level of cricketing abilities.
There is a description of Johnny’s signature shot – kneeling on one knee he would hold his bat perpendicular over his shoulder and when the ball rose of the pitch it would touch the blade and go over the wicket keeper’s head to the boundary. And guess where he learnt that skill? Read it for yourself in “Knock about Cricket”.