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Just For Laughs

The Don Bradman comeback that took down both Merv Hughes and Patrick Patterson

by Wisden Staff 3-minute read

Mike Whitney, the former Australia left-arm pacer, has recalled a story from 1989 when the usually amiable Sir Donald Bradman, the legendary batsman, put down both Merv Hughes and the West Indies pacer Patrick Patterson with one hilarious wisecrack.

On the second day of the Adelaide Test between Australia and West Indies in 1989, the hosts racked up a huge first-innings total of 515 against a bowling attacking comprising greats including Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. That was thanks to Dean Jones, who scored a fine 216, a lot of it alongside the tail-ender Hughes, who fought his way to 72.

In the dressing room after play that day, Bradman paid a visit. “When we batted, Deano got 200 and Merv actually got 72 batting with him – he actually got hit everywhere, but he really gutsed it out,” Whitney told 7Cricket.

“That night in the dressing room after the day’s play, the Don comes into the dressing room. We knew that Merv just wanted a pat on the bum, and the Don to [give] a tip of the hat, and a say, ‘Great 72, Merv’. And this was not coming. And Merv’s hovering around the 200-club there, bumping into people, and Sir Donald’s not even paying attention.

“Clive Lloyd, who is the manager of the West Indies side, comes in and asks Sir Donald if he would come down to the West Indies dressing room, and meet their players. Deano’s already got two six packs, because he’s heading down to the West Indies dressing room to tell them how good his 200 was. And Merv wants to nudge them about his 72, so he’s got two six packs. And we know this is going to be hilarious. So we’ve all grabbed a six pack and we’re in the West Indies dressing room.

“And when we’re in there, Viv [Vivian Richards] is introducing Sir Donald Bradman to the team, and he gets to Patrick Patterson. He was 6ft5, and cut. And he’s sitting there just in the jock strap. And Patrick stands up – and it’s like a shadow went over Sir Donald, this guy is that big – and he said, ‘Very pleased to meet you Sir Donald Bradman, but I would be thinking if you were playing today, then I could bowl you out.’

“The story about Sir Donald Bradman is this – nobody had ever heard him swear or get angry, people would tell you he never even said ‘bloody’. But after that statement, he looked up at Patrick Patterson and he went, ‘I don’t know about that, sonny, you couldn’t get effing Merv Hughes out today.’ And we were all just [beaming] … ‘He’s human, sir Donald!’ and Patrick must have realised, ‘Oh I couldn’t get Merv out’ – he just sat down and shrivelled in the chair.

“So finally Bradman’s got to leave, and Mervie is like in the door jam. Sir Donald took a couple of steps and stopped. And then walked backwards, and looked up at Merv and said, ‘It’s a funny game Merv, isn’t it?’, and walked out! Almost as if to say, ‘How did you get 72 against the West Indies!?’”

The match was drawn, with both Patterson and Hughes going wicket-less in the second innings. Australia won that five-match series 3-1.

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