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‘He thinks he is a fast bowler’ – Hughes recalls Ian Chappell’s scathing debut assessment

Hughes debut
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Former Australia paceman Merv Hughes, speaking on the ‘Keeping it Real‘ podcast, revealed how Ian Chappell gave him a scathing assessment after his forgetful Test debut at Adelaide.

Hughes started his Test journey against India in 1985 at the Adelaide Oval, where he was dismissed for a five-ball duck before leaking 123 runs in 38 overs, with Sunil Gavaskar carrying his bat and scoring 166 out of India’s 520.

Chappell was left unimpressed by the then-24-year-olf Hughes and wanted him to concentrate on ‘bowling medium pace’.

“My first Test against India, Adelaide Oval,” Hughes recalled. “People often ask to never forget your first Test match and I’ve got my hand up. No matter how hard I try I’ll never be able to forget my first Test match. 1-123 off 37 (38) overs, four-ball (five-ball) duck and possibly two or three dropped catches. It wasn’t a great start to international cricket.

“Ian Chappell, out of the commentary box, he was someone that as a young bloke was one of my heroes. The big three when I was coming up were Rod Marsh, Ian Chappell and Dennis Lillee. And Ian Chappell said, ‘The problem with Mervyn Hughes is he thinks he is a fast bowler. He should go back and concentrate on bowling medium pace and just tighten up a little bit and not give runs away.’

That’s the biggest kick in the backside I ever got. It was an interesting first Test match.”

Despite the blip on debut, Hughes went on to have a fine Test career for Australia, picking 212 wickets in 53 matches at 28.38 in the next nine years.

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