(Australian Associated Press)
Former Australia fast bowler and cult hero Merv Hughes has been inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.
Hughes is the second former player inducted this summer – and 56th inductee overall – after 1868 Aboriginal tour champion Johnny Mullagh.
A key figure in Australia’s return to the top of Test cricket rankings, Hughes’ career spanned 53 Tests and 33 ODIs from 1985-1994.
He claimed 212 Test wickets at an average of 28.38.
“To be inducted has blown me away,” Hughes said.
“To come in alongside some of the names that are in there is overwhelming and I’m a little bit emotional.
“I’m very happy with it.”
A booming, moustachioed figure, Hughes’ cult hero status was cemented while performing his famous bowling warm-up routine, in which he was joined by fans in the stands.
Fittingly, the proud Victorian was presented with his Hall of Fame trophy at the MCG in front of Bay 13, where his most dedicated supporters often congregated.
“There’s something about the guys that came in Bay 13; they were probably about my demographic, I reckon,” Hughes said.
“I felt very comfortable down here.”
Hughes was the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1994 and represented Victoria, Essex and the ACT over a first-class career spanning 14 seasons.
Without hesitation, he ranks the 1989 Ashes Tour as his career highlight, reflecting fondly on Australia’s 4-0 series victory over England.
“Within the team we felt that we’d been building towards something,” Hughes said.
“We went through a tough time and in ’89 things just clicked together.”
Hughes’ career-best figures of 8-87 against the West Indies at the WACA Ground in 1988 included the final wicket of a hat-trick spread across three separate overs, two innings and two different days.
“I didn’t realise I was on a hat-trick,” Hughes said.
“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.”
A third person will be inducted to the Hall of Fame later this week.