Mervyn Dillon: 11 facts about the lanky Caribbean pacer

Born June 5, 1974, Mervyn Dillon is a former West Indies fast bowler who represented the Caribbean national team in 38 Tests and 108 One-Day Internationals. He began his cricketing journey when the invincible duo of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose were in the twilight of their career. The Trinidadian pacer didn’t possess a lot of pace but had good control over his line and length. On his 42nd birthday, Suraj Choudhari takes a look at 11 lesser-known facts about Dillon.

1.  Labeled as natural successor of Courtney Walsh: Dillon’s bowling action highly resembled legendary pacer Walsh’s and was tipped to be the descendant of him with good efficiency and ability of getting the ball in towards a batsman. He was often compared with Walsh as well.

2.  Watch on his left-hand: Dillon was among the rare breed of cricketers who wore a watch on their left-hand while bowling.

3.  Responsibility on his shoulders: After the formidable duo of Walsh and Ambrose called it a day from international cricket, the onus of leading the West Indian pace attack came on Dillon’s shoulder. He did not inflict similar damage to the extent of his predecessors nor did he inspire that confidence.

4.  Impactful debut: Dillon donned the whites for the first time against India in the second Test of India in West Indies Test series in 1997 at Trinidad. Dillon had an impressive outing as he chipped three wickets in 35 overs at a decent economy of 2.62.

5.  Dream run in Test series against India: Dillon dismantled India in the the Test series at home back in 2002 and helped his side claim the series 2-1. Dillon had 23 scalps to his name in five Tests at a healthy average of 27.21. He played a key role in the final Test at Kingston where he recorded his finest numbers of 5 for 71 on the basis of which West Indies claimed the Test as well as the series.

6.  Special mention by Steve Waugh: Australian legend Waugh, in his autobiography — ‘Out of My Comfort Zone’ recognised Dillon as West Indies’ most notable underachiever.

7.  Lightning strikes Dillon:  During a Red Stripe Bowl match between Trinidad and the Windward Islands at Jamaica in October 2003, Dillon and Fernix Thomas were almost struck by a bolt of lightning and immediately hospitalized.

8.  History in an over: During the second Test of West Indies in Sri Lanka at Kandy, Dillon was involved in an iconic over. Dillon, after bowling couple of deliveries in his third over went back to the pavilion due to stomach ache. Colin Stuart, who replaced him, bowled two high full-tosses. Consequently he was banned by the umpire for the rest of the innings as a result of which Chris Gayle was compelled to put in the hard yards and finish the over. This was the only occasion in Test history where three different bowlers were utilized to bowl the same over.

9.  Dropped from the side: Dillon averaged horrible in their tour to South Africa in 2003. He averaged 89 in the first five Tests as a result of which he was axed from the Test side for their tour to England. Dillon never got a chance to don the whites again after this for West Indies.

10.  Finest performance against Bangladesh in ODI: Dillon wrecked havoc against Bangladesh in the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 at Southampton. He ran in and scalped five wickets which is also his best in ODIs, but unfortunately he was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a mistimed injury.  

11.  Healthy records: Dillon represented West Indies in 38 Tests and 108 ODIs in which he chipped 131 and 130 wickets respectively. His numbers may look good but he was definitely capable of achieving more than what he eventually accomplished.

(Suraj Choudharian avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with CricLife)