The 59-year-old played 53 Tests and 33 ODIs for Australia and was renowned as much for his bowling exploits as for his celebrated handlebar mustache. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1994.
After being inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, Merv Hughes said that to feature in the list alongside some of the Aussie greats is both “overwhelming” and “emotional". He was quoted as telling cricket.com.au:
“Now 26 years after I finished playing, to still be recognised, it has blown me away. It’s very humbling.”
Besides Merv Hughes, Don Bradman, Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, and Ricky Ponting are some of the big names from Australian cricket who are part of the hall of fame.
Looking back at his illustrious career, Merv Hughes picked the 1989 Ashes tour of England among the most memorable moments of his career. He said:
“Within the team we felt that we‘d been building towards something,” Hughes said of the 1989 team, lead by his greatest cricketing supporter in Border. We went through a tough time and in ‘89 things just clicked together. To go back in 1993 as one of the senior players ... you understand your responsibility.”
While inducting Merv Hughes, Australian Cricket Hall of Fame Chairman Peter King described the former cricketer as an icon, a larger-than-life personality, a wonderful international cricketer, and an ambassador for the sport.
He further said in praise of Hughes:
“A lion-hearted competitor, Merv boasts a proud career for Victoria and Australia in the Test and One Day International arenas, paving the way for an incredible era of Australian cricketing dominance."
Merv Hughes: A unique hat-trick for a unique cricketer
Merv Hughes finished his Test career with 212 Test wickets, including a hat-trick against the West Indies in Perth in 1988.
The incredible aspect of the feat was that it was achieved across two innings and on two different days. Merv Hughes got the wicket of Curtly Ambrose off the last ball of the 122nd over of West Indies’ first-innings. He then dismissed Patrick Patterson on the first delivery of the 124th over as the visitors were all out for 449.
On the the very first ball of the West Indies’ second innings, Merv Hughes trapped Gordon Greenidge LBW to complete a unique hat-trick. Not surprisingly, the former pacer admitted being clueless about achieving the feat. He recalled:
“I didn‘t realise I was on a hat-trick. To go out and get a wicket, Gordon Greenidge, first ball is a huge feather in your cap. I was a little bit excited about that, pumped up about the situation of the game and didn‘t find out for a couple of overs that I’d taken a hat-trick.”
Merv Hughes picked up 13 wickets in the Test and was named Man of the Match, even as West Indies went on to win the game by 169 runs.