As Lord's prepares to bid farewell to MCC groundsman for 49 years, Mick Hunt, a look back at his illustrious journey

In his late 60s now, Mick Hunt cherishes his time as the chief curator at Lord's and considers himself lucky to have been a part of the cricketing Mecca.

Gaurav Joshi, Aug 14, 2018 15:08:06 IST

Amongst all the memories Mick Hunt has of his regime as the chief curator at Lord's for nearly half a century, there is one he just loves to narrate. "I often get asked what's the most obscure thing I've seen in the middle? And my reply is a peacock!"

Such is the character that is Hunt. A jovial, good-humoured man that, in between, likes to sip on his own champagne. But not in a beige suit along with the egg and bacon tie near the long room, instead just quietly, with shorts and slippers on.

The second Test between England and India was Hunt's last. He will retire from his regime in December, bringing an end to an illustrious 49-year career at the home of cricket.

File image of Australia's Ricky Ponting with Lord's head groundsman Mick Hunt (R). Reuters

File image of Australia's Ricky Ponting with Lord's head groundsman Mick Hunt (R). Reuters

So, any tears? "Yes, not far short from it. For a long time, I was thinking that I've had enough... but now that it's here, it's strange," he said.

Hunt, along with his wife, currently resides in a house inside the Lord's premises. But come December, he will need to find a new place.

"My wife said (we live in the houses near the Nursery ground, inside the Lord's premises), there are three of us in this marriage. You, me and that grass out there," Hunt said.

"I'm sort of institutionalised. The walls go around the ground, but I don't know what's outside. I sometimes get outside and just go, what's this? I'm outside my place or zone or area. I need to find a place and move out now," he added.

In his late 60s now, Hunt cherishes his time as the curator and considers himself lucky to have been a part of the cricketing Mecca. Importantly, he loves narrating a good cricket story.

"(Indian captain Mohammed) Azharuddin had once asked me 'what do you think (I should do) if I win the toss?' I said 'if it is overcast, the ball will nip around a little bit and you can actually take a few wickets early on'. He replied 'Really? I thought you always bat at Lord's'. I said 'well yeah... put doubt in his mind'," Hunt recalled.

"India won the toss and elected to bowl. I remember thinking 'what have I said'. (Mike) Atherton nicked one, and he got caught. England are 14-1 and I'm the only Englishman going 'Yes!' And then, (Graham Gooch) Goochy nicks one, but (Kiran) More drops it and he goes on to score 333," he said.

"On the second morning, Azhar walked past me and said, well, I can't tell you what exactly he said, but it rhymed with my last name," Hunt said, as he burst into laughter.

One thing that has always been there since the day he started in the late 1960s is the infamous slope and the pavilion. Although he does recall a time when the sightscreen at the pavilion end was so small that is could barely be seen from the far end.

When Hunt first started, he would get overawed by the crowds, but now, he says, he will miss the atmosphere. "I always felt they were all looking at me standing in the middle. But now I don't really notice the crowd, the atmosphere... it had all become part of my life."

"(I'll miss) the people, the members, the stewards, the loyal supporters in the Warner stand – it is a fun place and I consider myself lucky," he said.

In his time, Hunt has prepared the pitch for over 1,000 matches – be it First Class, domestic, international one-dayers, or Test matches. But according to the veteran groundsman, the one match that will remain etched in his memory forever is the 2002 Natwest Final, the one in which Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif guided India to victory.

"I'm not saying this because you guys are Indians, but it was truly amazing. I was actually cheering India on at the end because they looked dead and buried at one stage. They fought back and the crowd, the noise level, the whole atmosphere... that was something that will live in my memory."

The greatest batsmen? "Viv! (Vivian Richards) I would ask him every time if he wanted to see the pitch and every time I would get the same answer, 'Why? It's the same for both sides'. "It is rarely like that now," he said, with a smile.

As Hunt continued to reminisce about all the great memories at Lord's, he suddenly recalled that the ground staff had organised a few celebratory drinks with his family. But just before heading off, he completed the tale of the peacock.

"It was in the middle and it had spread all its feathers. I came around the corner and saw it in the middle, near the pitch. I thought, 'my word, I must have had a lot to drink last night. So, who knows what I might see tomorrow," he said laughing, as he left.

Updated Date: Aug 14, 2018 15:08:06 IST

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