Travis Head has roused the MCG crowd by channeling his inner Merv Hughes.
Other than his 212 Test wickets at 28.38 and fearsome fast bowling, Hughes — a great of Australian cricket — is remembered best for his iconic handlebar moustache and famous relationship with the Bay 13 crowd at his home ground, the MCG.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Travis Head channels his inner Merv Hughes.
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Bay 13 has for decades been known to host a younger, rowdier crowd which creates a party-like atmosphere during even the most dull of periods in any given match.
But it was never dull at any match that involved Hughes, who had the fans in the palm of his hands during warm-ups in front of Bay 13 down at fine leg that became storied.
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Knowing full well that the raucous crowd behind him were mimicking his every move, Hughes would complete over-exaggerated stretches that invariably sent his adoring fans into raptures while they copied him in unison.
It was Head’s turn to do the same during the second Test against Pakistan on Wednesday — and the crowd ate it up.
Head was patrolling the outfield for most of the third session of Day 2, and quickly became Bay 13’s favourite when he channelled the great Merv by doing the same thing.
Travis Head channelled Merv Hughes. Credit: Getty
And in fact, Head — primarily a middle-order batter who occasionally bowls some part-time off-spin but was no chance of bowling on a lively MCG wicket on Wednesday — had no bowling for which to warm up.
But that didn’t stop him from having some fun with the crowd, who followed his every move, just like Hughes before him.
“Chants of ‘We want (Scott) Boland’ coming from the sun-bathed and happy MCG crowd after Travis Head leads them through a Merv Hughes-inspired stretching routine as Cummins takes a stunning caught and bowled to see the back of Abdullah Shafique,” Jono Baruch said.
The Bay 13 crowd got into it. Credit: X
After a slow start with the ball, the Aussies begun to take control of the match with a blistering final session of the day.
Once the hosts broke Shafique and skipper Shan Masood’s 90-run second-wicket stand, the floodgates started to open up.
Including Shafique’s dismissal, Pakistan lost 5-46 in a 13-over period to fall to 6-170 on the stroke of stumps, still trailing Australia by 148 runs.
Earlier, Australia became the first team since 2019 to pass 300 when batting first at the MCG.
Marnus Labuschagne scored his fourth Test half-century of 2023, but Australia’s No.3 could not go much further as Aamir Jamal (3-64) claimed the prized wicket for 63.
Allrounder Mitch Marsh threatened to banish his MCG demons as he went on the attack in typical fashion.
It is the 32-year-old’s first Boxing Day Test since he was mercilessly booed by the MCG crowd in 2018 after taking the spot of Victoria batter Peter Handscomb.
In a sign of respect, and possibly regret, from the MCG crowd, Marsh received a roaring reception when he walked out to bat on Wednesday.
Joel Wilson was forced to change his decision twice. Credit: Channel 7
He survived twice in consecutive balls to Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali (2-61) during his knock of 41.
The 32-year-old was given out lbw by umpire Joel Wilson, with Marsh taking his time to challenge the decision.
But to the surprise of everyone, the batter included, a faint inside edge appeared on hotspot.
The next delivery Wilson again gave Marsh out, caught behind, following a frantic appeal from Ali.
But this time the Australian knew for sure he hadn’t hit the ball and the decision was overturned.
Labuschagne was the only Australia batter to pass 50, with Usman Khawaja (42), Marsh (41) and Warner (38) all getting significant starts without going on.
During Mitchell Starc’s (9) brief innings, the new most-expensive recruit in the Indian Premier League became just the fourth Australian — after Richie Benaud, Shane Warne and Mitchell Johnson — to record 2000 runs and 300 wickets in Tests.
– With AAP