Lord's curator's swansong

Mick Hunt. DH photo by Sidney Kiran

Mick Hunt had a kidney scan on Tuesday morning. The legendary 66-year-old groundsman, instead of recuperating at home, then dashed off to the Lord’s in the afternoon. In the baking hot sun, he was busy overseeing preparations for the second Test between England and India.

He couldn’t afford a chance to miss administering how the wicket was been laid out. Just when he was taking a breather in the stands, the heavens opened up slightly. He immediately rushed to the centre to ensure the pitch was covered up nicely. While he’s always been so committed, the extra adrenaline was because this would be his final game in charge, bringing to an end a staggering 49-year-old association with the hallowed ground.

He’s overseen three World Cup finals and had he not chosen to walk away, he could have rolled out the pitch for a fourth one when England hosts the showpiece event next year. It could also have marked a superb half-century, deserved reward for a person associated with a sport that loves statistics and numbers.

“There are two sides to it. One side is saying ‘Enough, its enough.’ And on the other side, I’ve made a lot of friends and a few enemies as well! It’s pretty sad but life goes on, doesn’t it? I got four children and nine grand children. I’m gong to spend some time with them,” Hunt said.

“A lot of people have said (stay on for a fifty) but figures are not massive. When your body tells you time's enough, whether it's 40, 45 or 49 it doesn’t really matter. Figures are not important. I've got a family to think of, my health to think of. So I think the time is right.”

While admitting preparing a pitch for a Test match is extremely stressful, Hunt said what irks him the most is commentators shooting off their mouth prematurely. “Years ago most of the commentators weren't ex-cricketers, they just loved cricket. Now most of the commentators are ex-cricketers. The way they speak it's as if they never dropped a catch or bowled a bad ball or never misfielded. Some of these commentators think they're indestructible.

“It does annoy you sometimes when after the first over of a five-day Test match they've already passed their judgement on the pitch which is total nonsense. You've got to wait for at least a session or two. It can get a bit frustrating to listen to them at times.”

A witness to some great games, Hunt chose the 2002 NatWest Series final as his best. “The NatWest final where England got 325 and India were struggling at 5/146 is the best game. In the end those two guys (Yuvraj Singh and Mohd Kaif) turned things around for India. It was such a great game. It’s probably the best game of cricket I’ve seen. It was unbelievable. India were dead and buried. Great game of cricket.”

Hunt then cut off the conversation abruptly to attend to his primary duty.

 

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Lord's curator's swansong

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