Home > Features > Moments in history >

Kim Hughes: When Australia’s Golden Boy had to make a tearful exit

When Australia's Golden Boy had to make a tearful exit because of hostile team-mates

Former Australian captain Kim Hughes © Getty Images

On November 26, 1984, a tearful Kim Hughes announced that he was stepping down as captain of the Australian side. Arunabha Sengupta recounts the incidents that led to the incredible sight of a sobbing Australian captain.

Kim Hughes looked boyish, all through his tenure as captain of the Australian cricket team. His clean-shaven face with the golden locks in mischievous curls on his forehead told the story of innocence which jarred discordantly with several worldly wise men in and around the team that he led. Many of the Ugly Australian brigade, men hard as nails and bristling with facial hair, who thought he was not man enough to be a leader.

His fast bowler Dennis Lillee and vice-captain Rodney Marsh were never close to him, and remained openly antagonistic.

“I just couldn’t get along with Lillee and Marsh at all,” Hughes later recalled. “We were so uneasy with each other. Now we are best mates and meet regularly, but then the chemistry wasn’t good at all.”

And then there was Greg Chappell, who formed a formidable trio with his two great buddies. He relinquished captaincy to Hughes, and took it back sometimes when his business commitments allowed, but was never really convinced that the fair-haired, fun-loving much younger man could carry the team the same way as he and his brother had. When he became the chief selector, Hughes was tolerated, never encouraged.

Ian Chappell was another story. While the selectors and teammates were putting up with Hughes because of the Kerry Packer period which had tainted all but left the golden boy without a mark, the elder Chappell brother went all out finding gaping holes in everything Hughes did as player and captain.

Hughes was no pushover. His courage as he played some of the most thrilling innings against the West Indian pace bowling was there for all to see. In the 1980 Lord’s Centenary Test, he played two innings which will remain etched in the memories of all who watched those five days.

However, by 1983-84, he had had enough.  He led his side to the West Indies and had a torrid time. Australia lost 0-3, he managed 213 in 10 innings with a best of 33. Such was the antagonism in the ranks that Rodney Hogg threw a punch at him during some altercation about field setting.

When he returned, the West Indians followed with all their might to play Australia in their backyard. Hughes made 79 runs in his first four innings and Australia lost the first couple of Tests. To add to his woes, the media were vitriolic, and much of it was personal.

Hughes was told by the selectors at the start of the season that he would not see out the series as they did not see him as being a good enough leader. What made it worse was that despite his strong objections he had to carry out interviews with Ian Chappell, before and after matches, and the former captain then went on to slam his every move.

Hughes decided to quit on the fourth day of the second Test at Brisbane. Bob Merriman, the Australian manager, Fred Bennett, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) chairman, and Greg Chappell, the head of the selectors, came to know of his decision and did little to dissuade him. Only Dave Richards, the Australian Cricket Board chief executive who later headed the International Cricket Council, attempted to talk him out of it. But by then Hughes had made up his mind.

At the post-match press conference on November 26, 1984, Hughes started to read a prepared statement to the media. “The constant speculation, criticism and innuendo by former players and sections of the media have taken their toll. In the interest of the team, Australian cricket and myself, I have informed the ACB of my decision to stand down as Australian captain.”

However, he could not go on with his statement with tears rolling down his cheek and sobs shaking him up.  He got up and handed the statement to Merriman and left the room. The manager finished reading the text.

Years later, Hughes recalled: “When I sat there in the press conference I just couldn’t stop myself. It was an emotional thing to do and I don’t regret doing it. There was no media manager as well at that time; you had to fend for yourself.”

Clive Lloyd, the West Indies skipper, was not very sympathetic. “In this job you have to learn to take the good with the bad. Obviously the pressure of the last few years has built up for Kim and he now finds he must get out.”

However, John Woodcock of The Times slammed Ian Chappell “missed no opportunity of finding fault”. He was also critical about the lack of loyalty shown in the “ghosted writings of Rod Marsh, his vice-captain, or Dennis Lillee, his best bowler”.

Hughes indicated that he wanted to carry on as a player. The selectors retained him for two more Tests, but he could only score 0, 2, 0 and 0.

After some discussions with Merriman and Richards, he was: “disillusioned about the politics of Australian cricket … I couldn’t stomach the thought of playing for the ACB because of the way the game was being run.” He got in contact with Ali Bacher and led a side on the rebel tour to South Africa that followed, and never played international cricket again.

The more you go, the sicker it gets. I am just pleased to be out of it,” Hughes summed it up.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Perth Scorchers won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014  at Raipur

NK won by 33 runs (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 5 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 3 wkts

Photos

KXIP vs Hobart Hurricanes, Match 2 CLT20 2014

Videos

Anderson plays golf with Jaguar competition winners

Kings XI Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, Match 5, CLT20 2014: David Miller helps KXIP register 4-wicket victory

Dolphins vs Perth Scorchers CLT20 2014 Match 4: Highlights

Don Bradman plays his final innings in England

Pananmal Punjabi: A nonagenarian Test opener

Chris Cairns cleaning bus shelters? Why?

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 CSK vs KKR Hobart Hurricanes India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders Northern Knights

CLT20 2014: KXIP skipper George Bailey praises Akshar Patel

CLT20 2014: Glenn Maxwell thrilled with two close games at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, Match 5, CLT20 2014: David Miller helps KXIP register 4-wicket victory

George Bailey dismissed for 7; Kings XI Punjab 127 for 5

Virender Sehwag out leg-before; Kings XI Punjab 111 for 4

Before Mitchell Marsh, Surinder Amarnath had hit sixes off last two balls to win a match in England

Nip Pellew — one of the greatest fielders of all time

James Franklin: Barbados Tridents have youngsters who can win games

Kings XI Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, Match 5, CLT20 2014: Highlights

CLT20 2014: Mitchell Marsh stakes his claim for a spot in Australia’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad with late blitz for Perth Scorchers against Dolphins

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

669 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes (HH) CLT20 2014

World Alzheimer’s Day 2014: Book to spread awareness about dementia

Wickedleak Wammy Desire 3 tablet with 7-inch display and Android KitKat launched for Rs 5,999

Asian Games 2014 Live Updates: Eyes on Jitu Rai, Dipika Pallikal-Joshna Chinappa face-off

EPL Table & Results: Points Table and Team Standings at 2014-15 Barclays Premier League Week 5

From Coke Zero to Mahindra Scorpio, the changing face of Indian e-commerce

Latest Cancer Research: Biosensors to detect risk of developing cancer

Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 7 winner Ashish Sharma: I have had thoughts of quitting the show several times

Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate to air on October 5

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here