Albert Henry

1903-1904 A Grade Premiership Team

Albert Henry – 1903/04 South Brisbane Cricket

Albert played for South Brisbane in the 1903/1904 A grade Premiership Team and was reputed as the fastest bowler in the world at the time.

This photo from the South Brisbane A Grade Premiership Team of 1903/1904 is probably one of only 2 images of Albert existing.

He was among the first Indigenous Grade Crickets of his time.

His Wikipedia entry is as follows:

Albert Henry (also known as Alec Henry; c. 1880 – 13 March 1909) was one of the first Aboriginal Australians to play first-class cricket. He was a right handed fast bowler.

Henry was born in Boomah, Queensland and lived at the Deebing Creek Reserve near Ipswich, Queensland.

He played in seven first-class matches for Queensland between March 1902 and April 1905, scoring 36 runs in 13 innings and taking 21 wickets at an average of 32.04.

He made his first-class debut in the match between Queensland and New South Wales in Brisbanein March 1902. This match became the subject of much media attention in Australia, because it was the first time that two Aboriginal Australians had played in opposing teams at first-class level, with the New South Wales team including Jack Marsh, another fast bowler who had been accused of throwing. Henry was reputedly the fastest bowler in the world.

As part of the media promotion of the match-up between the pair, Henry was taken to Ipswich station to meet Marsh. Marsh was reported in the media as having said “Say old man, toss me up a soft one so I can get a smack at you”. Marsh took 2/64 and 3/67 and Henry took 2/59 and 1/38 in a drawn match. Marsh and Henry each bowled three of their victims. They also dismissed one another once, each being bowled for nine in their respective team’s first innings, and neither batted in their team’s second innings, creating some symmetry in the scorecard. Nine was to remain Henry’s highest first class batting score.

Henry also played against Marsh in his second first-class match, between Queensland and New South Wales at Brisbane in November 1902. Henry scored 2 and 4 not out, and took 0/39 and 5/40, his best single-innings bowling return, but New South Wales won by 77 runs.

Henry played against New South Wales at Sydney in December 1902, scoring 7 and 0 and taking 3/86 and 0/70 as New South Wales won by 2 wickets; against Victoria at Brisbane in January 1903, taking 3/76 and scoring 4 and 1 not out as Victoria won by an innings and 327 runs; against the touring MCC side in November 1903, taking 2/60 – the wickets of Len Braund and Ted Arnold – and 0/21 and scoring 0 not out twice, as MCC won by 6 wickets.

He played in his last first-class matches against New South Wales, at Sydney in December 1903, taking 0/57 and 4/49 and scoring 0 and 0*, with New South Wales winning by 2 runs, and at Brisbane in April 1905, taking 1/78 and New South Wales winning by an innings and 12 runs.

After he was no-balled for throwing in a club match in 1904, he confronted the umpire AL Crossart, saying that his good balls were no-balled, but the balls he threw deliberately were not!

After disagreements with the authorities at Deebing, he was moved to Barambah (now Cherbourg) and then Yarrabah, where he died of tuberculosis before his 30th birthday.

The Australian Biography dictionary history can be read at this link

The Government Indigenous Cricketers history can be read at this link – Except here – Albert Henry – one of the fastest bowlers ever seen, a ‘black diamond’

Albert (Alec) Henry, c. 1902-04. Courtesy of Jack Pollard and Colin Tatz.

Another fast bowler was Albert Henry (1880-1909), who lived on the Deebing Creek Reserve near Ipswich, Queensland. Henry played seven first-class games for Queensland in 1901-02 and 1904-05. He took 26 wickets at an average of 32.04 runs each and was thought to be one of the fastest bowlers ever seen.

1902-04 Henry ‘no-balled’ and sent back to Deebing Creek

In April 1902 Henry was selected to play against New South Wales, including Jack Marsh, and like Jack Marsh, he was constantly no-balled for doubtful action.

In 1904, at a club match, umpire A.L. Crossart also continually no-balled him. Henry’s response has gone down in cricket lore. He was reported to the Queensland Cricket Association, with the suggestion that he was no-balled because he was an Aborigine. Henry was reported as saying while shaking his fist at the umpire;

You no-ball my good balls and the ones I did throw, you never. You know nothing about cricket.
Ashley Mallett, In Bradman’s Band, p.65

Deebing Creek Reserve, 1907, from which residents required permission to leave. Courtesy of Oxley Library.

Sent back to Deebing Creek, he was later recalled in 1905 and played his last match for Queensland. Later, he was reported as standing up to the authorities. He was consequently removed to Barambah (now Cherbourg) and imprisoned for a month ‘for loafing, malingering and defying authority’. From there he was isolated further to Yarrabah, to die of tuberculosis at the age of 29.

Henry achieved fantastic figures in grade cricket. Most of his victims were clean bowled. The Englishmen who faced him during the 1903–04 tour thought he was the fastest bowler they had ever seen, ‘even the fastest trundler in the world’. Henry was involved in both cricket and also running.