Albert Cotter established his cricketing ability at school in Sydney and by 18 was playing for New South Wales. When he was 20 he was selected to bowl for Australia. In a nine-year international career he played in 21 Tests, taking 89 wickets for an average of 28.64 runs.
Cotter's bowling caused outrage in the British newspapers when he first toured England with the Australian Test Team in 1905. A fast bowler with an intimidating style, he faced the grand old man of English cricket, W.G. Grace, in his first match. He bowled a full toss, striking the batsman on the chest. Grace spooned the next ball then walked off in disgust. At one point the England captain demanded that Cotter stop bowling at the body.
Cotter joined the AIF in April 1915, aged 31. The enlistment of a former sporting champion was seen as powerful publicity for the AIF recruiting campaign.
Despite having no great riding ability, he was accepted into the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment; he took a late part in the Gallipoli campaign. Later he transferred to the 12th Light Horse and was commended for his "fine work under heavy fire" during the second battle of Gaza. The official history remarked: "he behaved in action as a man without fear". He declined promotion.
On 31 October 1917 the 4th Light Horse Brigade, of which the 12th Regiment was part, captured Beersheba by a brilliant cavalry-style charge. Cotter was there as a stretcher-bearer. At the end of the charge, as troops dismounted to engage the enemy, a Turk shot Cotter dead at close range.