Black man in a white man's world: Aboriginal cricketer Eddie Gilbert

Edwards, Kenneth David (1978). Black man in a white man's world: Aboriginal cricketer Eddie Gilbert PhD Thesis, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Edwards, Kenneth David
Thesis Title Black man in a white man's world: Aboriginal cricketer Eddie Gilbert
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movement Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1978
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 713 (2v)
Language eng
Subjects 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
430112 Biography
Formatted abstract This thesis examines the life of Aboriginal cricketer Edward ('Eddie') Gilbert. Eddie Gilbert, as a detribalised Aborigine, was subjected to various influences which affected his personal and cricket career and which were significantly different from those to which a white person and other Aborigines from a similar background may have been exposed.

Eddie Gilbert is perhaps the best remembered of all Aboriginal cricketers to play first-class cricket in Australia. He was a member of the Queensland Sheffield Shield team at various times between 1930 and 1936. During his first-class cricket career of 23 matches for Queensland he took 87 wickets at the respectable average of 29.21 runs per wicket.

Gilbert grew up on a Government controlled reserve at Barambah (later Cherbourg) in southern Queensland. This thesis explores the influence of a background where the daily life of inmates was controlled by the operation of the Aborigines Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act (1897).

Eddie Gilbert took an interest in cricket during his teens, and was devastating in local competition. He was later selected to play cricket for Queensland at the first-class level. His cricket career meant a great deal to the people at Cherbourg.

The question of race was a significant factor that determined the course of the career of Eddie Gilbert and there were many other issues. This thesis critically explores and examines aspects of racism in sport.

Gilbert had a highly controversial cricket career which was dogged by rumours about his bowling action. These controversies served to make him more appealing to the general public. This thesis seeks to analyse these events with regard to Gilbert's racial background.

The achievement that Eddie Gilbert is remembered for more than any other is his dismissal of the legendary Don Bradman for no score in a match at Brisbane in November 1931. It was an achievement which awarded Gilbert national fame.

There were times during Gilbert's career when he was proposed as being good enough to play for Australia. This was not to occur.

Cricket did not prove to be an agent of social mobility and assimilation for Eddie Gilbert. He was to have his moment of fame and a limited amount of social acceptance - but this was to be a passing and temporary experience. Gilbert was never able to achieve any measure of social mobility or financial reward.

Through a degree of cross-racial popularity Eddie Gilbert survived to expose certain myths, inconsistencies and contradictions in the so-called 'classless' but nevertheless racist Australian society. This thesis attempts to investigate and explain the basis and extent of this situation.

A gradual decline in Gilbert's personal life after his cricket career had ended showed that his success in first-class cricket was to be of little value in re-establishing a fulfilling life amidst the controls and pressures of settlement life. He was to live an aimless life for several years after his first-class career ended in 1936. In 1949 he began to develop signs of mental instability and he was finally sent to an appropriate institution. He spent his remaining years there and died in 1978.

In addition to the various chapters of the study, material was prepared which indicates an understanding of the wider aspects of race relations in Queensland and an outline of the history and other aspects at Cherbourg settlement. These will serve as a background to the study and are presented as a separate volume.
Keyword Gilbert, Eddie
Cricket -- Australia
Aboriginal Australians
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