A right-arm fast bowler, Merv represented Australia between 1985 and 1994 in 53 Test matches, taking 212 wickets. He played 33 One Day Internationals, taking 38 wickets. He took a hat trick in a Test against the West Indies at the WACA in 1988–89, and went on to take 8–87. In 1993, he took 31 wickets in the Ashes Series against England. 'Hughes' physical presence (a burly 6'4"), handlebar moustache, a penchant for exuberant displays of affection for his fellow players, and a tendency to talk to the opposition in inventively colourful language (his nickname was "Fruitfly" – a somewhat incongruous nickname until Allan Border explained it was a reference to "Australia's greatest national pest"), and a (some would say) "mincing" run-up (that at times stretched to 45 paces), made him a firm favorite amongst supporters, who would often imitate his warm-up stretches behind him en masse. In England, on his second Ashes tour in 1993, the crowd often chanted "Sumo" when he ran in to bowl.