Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Ashes Tests: 22
Record: 1 win, 3 losses, 2 draws
Off the Mark
Kim Hughes’ time as an Australian cricketer was anything but conventional. An on again off again skipper for six years, Hughes struggled to find his niche in a side that was constantly chopping and changing.
The attacking batsman made 1,499 runs at 38.43 in his 22 Ashes appearances, including three centuries. He played a number of memorable matches against England, but none more impressive than his showing in the 1980 Centenary Test at Lord’s.
The first Test of the 1981 series started brilliantly for the Australians. Hughes sent the English in, and was backed up by his opening bowlers throughout the match. Lillee and Alderman combined for seven wickets in the first innings as England fell for 185. Surprisingly, the hosts held a six run lead with only Allan Border showing any fight. Lillee and Alderman then bowled all but three overs as they dismissed England for a paltry 125. In a low-scoring contest, Australia struggled at times, but limped over the line with a four wicket win.
A 1-0 lead after two Tests looked good, but Australia hadn’t factored in a frightening resurgence from Sir Ian Botham. John Dyson (102) and Hughes (89) took Australia to 402 before the skipper declared. Things looked even better when the trio of Lillee, Alderman and Lawson dismissed the hosts for 174. Botham made 50, but England were forced to follow-on. When England collapsed to be 7-135, the Australian dressing room started to prepare the champagne. Bookmakers were offering 500-1 for an English victory, and many people in the crowd were leaving the ground. “Beefy” Botham then stepped up to play one of the classic Ashes knocks. His 149* off 148 deliveries shattered Australian confidence. As brutal as the innings was, Australia still only needed 130 for victory. Enter Bob Willis. In 15 telling overs, the English quick ravaged the panicked line-up with eight wickets. The 18 run loss is one of the darkest moments in Australian cricket, and was the first time since 1894 that a side had lost after enforcing the follow-on.
The next Test at Birmingham followed a similar course. Australia needed just 151 in the fourth innings, and was apparently coasting at 5-113. Not for the first time this series, Botham intervened. In a blistering 25 ball spell, Botham picked up five wickets for just one run to seal a remarkable 30 run win. He also scored 118 in the next Test, but it seems unfair to bring that one up.
Kim Hughes was a victim of circumstance. He led the nation in a time of instability on the field. He was captain on and off for the final four years, with Greg Chappell filling the role on an intermittent basis. It was hard to get a read on what sort of a player Hughes could have been. He seemed overly burdened as a captain, while he looked fluent with Chappell at the helm.
The 1980 Centenary Test at Lord’s was the crowning glory in his career. In a match ruined by rain, Hughes scored a glittering 117 in the first, before backing it up with 84 in the second innings. He batted on all five days of the match, and played some of the most marvellous strokes ever seen in England.
Sadly for Hughes, he exited cricket in a manner he probably regrets. It was clear that the role had taken its toll, and the December 1984 press conference showed what captaincy can do to a man. In front of the media, Hughes began reading a scripted statement, before breaking into tears and leaving the room. Team manager Bob Merriman finished the letter, which outlined Hughes’ decision to relinquish the role.
Played and Missed
Hughes’ poor record as captain can be attributed to a number of things. Firstly, he rarely had the same eleven players on the field for consecutive Tests. He was repeatedly swapping roles with Greg Chappell, and finally, he played just seven matches at home out of the 28 he captained.
The incredible Centenary Test match saw Hughes became the only player in Test history to hit a six on all five days of a match.
Hughes managed just two runs in his final four innings as a Test cricketer.
Hughes was an innovative captain for a number of reasons. However, one of his most famous moves was to swap up the rooming arrangements to stop mini cliques developing in the squad.
Hughes finished his career with 444 fours.