The career of Merv Hughes is being celebrated across the cricket world after the iconic former Test bowler was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.
Hughes - the larger than life character with a moustache to match - becomes the second former player inducted this summer after 1868 Aboriginal tour champion Johnny Mullagh.
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The Victorian joins illustrious company, with his induction making him the 56th name on the Hall of Fame list.
The 59-year-old was a key figure in Australia's return to the top of Test cricket rankings, claiming 212 Test wickets at an average of 28.38.
His glittering career spanned 53 Tests and 33 ODIs from 1985-1994.
Hughes paid tribute to the other key figures he joins in the Hall of Fame, admitting that it has been "overwhelming" to receive such an honour.
"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."
Hughes became a cult figure in Aussie sport, with a moustache and a warm-up routine that resonated with fans around the world.
The former fast bowler was known as a loveable larrikin of the sport and his stretching routines near the boundary were invariably mimicked by adoring members of the crowd.
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.
The former quick's popularity in the sport is clear to see from the reactions on social media to his latest honour.
Congratulations to Merv Hughes, who has been inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame!
More on Hughes' fine career, including flashbacks to a bristling handlebar moustache, menacing run-up and displays of affection for his team mates: https://t.co/YXr9SgNqtK pic.twitter.com/rYXTpkwLbb
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) February 1, 2021
Absolutely made up for the Big Man.
He once took this little Pom in a wheelchair under his wing at a Test at Old Trafford and was magnificent as he took me into the jubilant Australian changing room to meet the team.
Never forgotten the kindness he showed me that day. #TopBloke
— NickTheWheel 💙 (@NickTheWheel) February 1, 2021
Congrats @MervHughes332 big man . Well deserved by you and the family 👏👍🍻
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) February 1, 2021
Merv the swerve... many congratulations from a very ‘bruised’ member of the Barmy Army... very well deserved. 👏👏👏
— David Swindells (@DavidSwindells) February 1, 2021
A great player, a great Victorian, Big Merv.
— Dan P (@partridgedan) February 1, 2021
— Damien Martyn🏏 (@damienmartyn) February 1, 2021
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) February 2, 2021
1989 Ashes tour the highlight for Hughes
Hughes says he has no hesitation ranking 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.
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