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Merv Hughes
Merv Hughes
 real 14k

Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Q&A: Merv Hughes
Merv Hughes terrorised England batsmen in the 1980s and 90s and he was on hand to field your questions and dodge any bouncers.

  • real 14k Click here to listen to Merv.

    The sight of Merv Hughes steaming in to bowl is one of the abiding memories of recent Ashes series.

    One of cricket's great characters, Big Merv was an integral part of the Australian renaissance of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    And BBC Sport Online gave you the chance to question the Aussie legend on the current Ashes series and Merv's cricketing past.

  • real 14k Click here to listen to Merv.

    Danny, Australia

    What do you reckon the chances are of Australia winning The Ashes 5-0?

    Before the tour, I said 3-1, but England have had a few injuries to Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe, which obviously hasn't helped them. I don't think it will be 5-0. I think there will have to be rain somewhere along the line. The way Australia are playing it has to be a possibility, but three Test matches is a long time.

    The fitness, training and recovery work they do is very good, and the cricket seems to get better and better. I don't want to compare sides of different eras. If they're the best team of this era, then they must be considered among the best team of any era.

    Graham Aylott, England

    Are there any youngsters who you think could come straight into the England team, or do you think we should stick with Atherton, Stewart, Ramprakash and possibly even recall Hick?

    I would definitely stick with Atherton and Stewart. Butcher's done a very good job, as have Hussain and Thorpe (when they're fit). Caddick's bowled very well and Gough's a real tryer. Apart from that, if you have a look at the next level of players to come in, I think everyone in England would agree that they're just not ready for it.

    So it may be time for England to bite the bullet, pick some talented youngsters, stick with them through some tough times and reap the rewards in a few years time. At the moment they're just re-cycling players and not doing too well, so they should try and build a team.

    In Australia in the mid 80's the situation was exactly the same. They bit the bullet and realised that they were in for some hard times, but that in the long run it would pay dividends. People like Ian Healy, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and, a bit later on, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, were all picked after a hand full of first class matches. Those players are now household names wherever cricket's played. So it's time to bite the bullet, pick some young people and stick with it.

    Simon, England

    What are your views on Rodney Marsh taking over at the English Cricket Academy?

    He did a fantastic job with the Australian side, and he'll probably coach the same way that he played. He was a very tough competitor, and by all accounts from the guys who went through the Australian academy, he's a very tough coach. England probably needs to toughen up in their attitude and approach to the game. Rodney Marsh will certainly help them with that.

    Sathya Kothandram

    What was your greatest Ashes moment?

    That was the '89 Ashes tour. To come over in a side that was described as the worst ever selected to represent Australia, and then win series in which we weren't supposed to win a single match 4-0 was very satisfying, and very rewarding.

    Nick B, UK

    Who did you find was the hardest batsmen to bowl to, and, as you were a decent bat too, who did you most fear bowling against you?

    Malcolm Marshall was the bowler that I feared the most. He was probably the quickest, and for a bloke of about 5'10 or 5'11 he generated a lot of bounce. Bounce combined with speed is always a frightening experience for someone that can't bat!

    On the batting side of things, Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar were probably the hardest to bowl to. At the end of my career, three blokes who I really admired for their ability and their toughness were Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Michael Atherton.

    Serdar Cepni, India

    Were there any English batsmen you particularly enjoyed dismissing?

    I think Michael Atherton - especially in the '93 series, because at that stage I rated him as a really good player. And also, if you got Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting out you'd earned their wicket. I probably had more satisfaction than anyone in getting Graeme Hick out in 1993, but certainly Michael Atherton would have been top of the tree.

    Don Fabio, London

    Did you seriously believe that licking the cricket ball helped you bowl better, or was it to scare the opponents?

    I basically licked the cricket ball to keep it shining. I used to lick the ball, especially early in my spell before I had a sweat up, and then rub the ball against my temple to get the perspiration off when I had a sweat. So before I had a sweat up I'd lick the ball to get the moisture on it and make it shined. It was nothing to do with scaring the opposition - it was just to keep the ball in good order.

    Nick Hammond, England

    What did you really use to say to Robin Smith?

    Seeing as this website is not x-rated I really can't repeat it! There was definitely a bit of verbal banter but it was a two-way thing. At the end of the day it wasn't what you said, but how you said it. As a bowler, if you can place verbal pressure on a batsman then they've got more things to think about, and it might put them off their game a little bit. It wouldn't be too much - at different times it would have been outright abuse and some sarcastic and cynical comments. It wouldn't have been anything mind-boggling. Robin Smith wasn't quite as bad as me, but he certainly knew how to give it back.

    Ben, UK

    Whilst wondering around England Test grounds you must have seen all the Merv memorabilia. When did you realise you were a legend to English fans?

    I would never say for one moment that I was a legend. Popular would be a word that I'd use, but when you talk of legends you think of people like Ian Botham, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson. I think there's a difference between being a legend and being very popular. I think, like Darren Gough who's a bit of a lad, the English people just saw me as someone they could relate to. I think the cricketing public just likes to attach themselves to someone who's honest.

    Andy, UK

    Who holds the beer drinking record on the trips from Australia to England?

    I really can't say. All I can honestly say is that it was never me, and it was never going to be me. It would be someone looks a little bit similar but is about two feet shorter than me, and is from Tasmania. But I don't want to mention any names!

    Bernie, England

    If you were stranded on Desert Island and could only take three items with you, what would they be?

    A keg of beer would have to be there. A food supply: since everyone in England thinks I ate all the pies, I'd have to take a couple of dozen pies with me! And finally, Elle McPherson would be nice.

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