Sidelights: Merv Hughes in crowd, tourist’s loss on Dharamshala Test

- February 17, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Day One saw plenty of interesting cricket on the field with Australia struggling to put up a par score on the board. But there was plenty of action and characters in the crowd

Representational photo

Tickets to the second Test match may have been sold out but Delhiites did not show as much enthusiasm as the sale of tickets would suggest for the first day as stands, especially the top tier, were largely vacant.

Friday being a working day appeared to be the main reason for a lack of a full house but the sun was also harsh with the temperature in the mid-20s in the afternoon. It left those on the top stands, exposed to the sun.

There was, however, a sizeable crowd in the other stands and the turnout is expected to improve over the weekend, the officials of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) feel.

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Merv Hughes back, but among spectators

Among those present in the crowd was former Australian pace bowler Merv Hughes. One generally expects ex-cricketers to be in the commentary box or doing expert comments for some channel. But Hughes, who represented Australia in 53 Tests and 33 ODIs besides playing for domestic teams in 165 first-class games, has been part of the Australian Sports Tours (AST) club for quite a number of years. This is besides some of his media duties.

Clad in the fan club’s yellow jersey with AST embossed on upper-left corner, Hughes is here only for this Test.

Merv Hughes (centre) with Australia Sports Tours club

“I have been touring with the fan club since the Ashes series of 2001. I usually do 2-3 Test matches of a series. But I am here for only one Test,” he told a couple of pressmen, including Patriot.

Hughes, who took 212 Test wickets and was famous for his long moustaches and his peculiar action, has not played any Test in India. He, however, played four ODIs in India in 1989 MRF World Series for the Nehru Cup, including one against India.

The player, who played Tests between 1985 and 1994, hasn’t given much thought to not playing Test in India.

Asked how the day was panning out, he said with a laugh, “It was all fine till 15 minutes before lunch (when Australia were 91/1).”

As wickets fell, the mood in the section clad in yellow of Australia got sombre.

Loss due to Dharamsala Test

While Hughes was conspicuous by his presence in the crowd in Old Clubhouse, Charles Robertson, a Scottish tourist and a cricket club owner in Edinburgh, sat in one corner almost unnoticed. He is touring India and Delhi was his first stop.

Charles Robertson was planning to go to Dharamsala but the match has been shifted to Indore

He was planning to go to Dharamsala for the third Test and had even booked his flights and hotel. But unfortunately, he had to cancel the plan as the Test was shifted to Indore a few days ago due to unsatisfactory ground conditions at the Himchal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.

“I will lose a few bucks on the tour for sure but thankfully it isn’t much. Only the money on flights to and from Dharamsala will go waste,” said Roberston, whose Edinburgh Academicals Cricket Club also gives opportunities to some cricketers from India.

“I was here on a tour and thought of catching up the cricket series. After all, it is a big one,” said Robertson.

Being British, it was no surprise that he “was supporting India”.

Or put it this way: He wasn’t supporting Ashes rivals Australia and backing the opponents.