We learnt a lot through Graeme Hick. We learnt that nothing’s preordained. We learnt that heroes can let you down. We learnt that huge talent isn’t the sole ingredient for Test success and we learnt that if you mess about dropping and reselecting players it doesn’t help them one bit.
If you’re a bit too young to know all that much about Graeme Hick, during the period that he was qualifying for England he was quite plainly the best batsman in the country and quite possibly the best for several generations. At the time he qualified, he was 25 and he’d hit 57 first-class hundreds with a top score of 405 not out. Michael Vaughan’s 33 and he’s still only scored 42 first-class hundreds. Andrew Strauss is 31 and has 26.
In his first two Test matches, Hick made six, six and nought and never looked back.
Actually, that’s grossly unfair. For three years he averaged over 45 in Tests, back when that was actually quite meaningful, but after such a colossal initial disappointment, he could never win people back round.
We used to be mental about Graeme Hick. We believed he’d be better than Viv Richards for a long time after it was clear that was never going to happen. We’d check his average for every Test series. If it was above 40, it was proof. If it was below, we’d look forward to the next series. Hope was more important than facts during the Nineties.
Graeme Hick, despite his barely-even-mediocre overall Test record, has been an exceptional cricketer. It’s not hotly-contested, but he’d get into England’s best ever one-day side and he’s scored so many first-class runs it’s not even comprehensible.
A thousand runs in a season is considered ‘successful’. Graeme Hick has hit 41,112 first-class runs. Just think about that. He’s hit 136 centures and 158 fifties. He averages 52.
We don’t know how he’d know, but Steve Waugh thought Hick was the best 18 year-old in the history of cricket. Hick couldn’t maintain that level of overachievement, but he still ends his career a phenomenon.