Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Five Mervyns

Fantasy Bob has had Mervyns on the brain.  There is no known cure. Perhaps he should have left that last bit of cheese on the plate.  But all night long he had Mervyns on the brain.  It is not as if Mervyn is that common a name.   FB doesn't think he has ever actually met a Mervyn.  But he has had Mervyns on the brain.  It was as if he had been specially commissioned to do a remake of the celebrated West End musical and call it Five Guys Named Merv.  He had Mervyns on the brain.

Hughes at his best
It all started quite calmly with FB's discovery that Merv Hughes is 50 today.  FB always enjoyed Hughes as a player.  The great mustachiod one exemplified raw commitment and aggression. Cricket followers will remember the moustache - insured for £200,000 at the peak of his career.  And the sledging - one of the few printable examples occurred during the 1991 Adelaide Test against Pakistan. Miandad dared to call big Merv a 'fat bus conductor'.  Hughes was not amused and he piled on the pace. A few balls later he got his man and as Miandad walked past, he sped him on his way with the call 'Tickets, please!' 

Many will also remember him for the unique feat of taking a hat trick spread across three separate overs and two different days at Perth in 1988–89.  He had Curtly Ambrose caught behind with the last ball of his 36th over, then ended West Indies' first innings in his 37th, by removing Patrick Patterson.  Then more than a day later completed his hat-trick by trapping Gordon Greenidge lbw with the first ball of West Indies' second innings.  Yes, people will remember all this - but they may not remember that in his 53 match Test career between 1985 and 1994 he took 212 wickets at 28.38 and a mean low order hitter with a top score of 72.  Not a bad player.

So that's what started the Mervyns on the brain.  Amazingly enough the next Mervyn was also a cricketer. who FB remembers from watching all those Sunday League matches so many years ago.  Mervyn Kitchen batted for Somerset - frequently in harness with Roy Virgin.  In 354 first-class games between 1960 and 1979 he made 15,230 runs at 26.25.  He then went on to umpire in 20 Test matches and 28 One-Day Internationals before retiring in 2005.

Merv the Swerve
So that's 2 Mervyns.  But FB's brain wasn't finished yet for looming up behind Kitchen is another Mervyn.  Merve the Swerve, considered by many to be the finest No 8 forward that British Rugby has ever seen.  Certainly better than FB who dallied in that position for a period.  Mervyn Davies was capped 38 times for Wales and 8 times for the British Lions between 1969 and 1976.  His career was ended by an intra-cranial haemorrhage suffered during a match in 1976. 

Walrus and the Carpenter
by Mervyn Peake
3 Mervyns and still FB's brain was in overdrive.  Still Mervyns on the brain but the end of sporting Mervyns  for the fourth Mervyn wrote Titus Groan and Gormenghast amongst other books.  He was also a noted illustrator - particularly of Dickens and Lewis Carroll.  2011 is Mervyn Peake's centenary year - he died at a tragically early age in 1969.  Cricket doesn't really feature in his work.

But there are still Mervyns on the brain.  Here's another - the Bank of England and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee Mervyn King.  He may look all  quantitative easing and reduced growth forecasts but Mervyn is a cricket fan.  He is Patron of Worcestershire County CC.    King is also the President of the cricket foundation Chance to Shine programme, which fosters competitive cricket in state schools (but sadly not in Scotland).  As he says on the programme's website 'I believe that cricket can play a unique role in the education of children. It is the ultimate team game that reaches across boundaries of gender, race and class, offering opportunity to all.'  Well said Merv.

King enjoying the cricket at Lords last July
 At last FB's mind returns to its habitual empty state - it is all Mervyned out.  Five Guys named Merv - it could be a great show.  The original - Five Guys Named Moe used the music of the great Louis Jordan - just to get you in the mood here is a link to one of Louis Jordan's most energetic pieces.

Oh and happy birthday Merv.

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