Len Hutton bigraphy, stories - English cricketer

Len Hutton : biography

23 June 1916 - 6 September 1990

Sir Leonard "Len" Hutton (23 June 1916 – 6 September 1990) was an English Test cricketer, who played for Yorkshire and England before and after the Second World War as an opening batsman. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack described him as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He set a record in 1938 for the highest individual innings in a Test match in only his sixth Test appearance, scoring 364 runs against Australia, a milestone that stood for nearly 20 years (and remains an England Test record). In 1952, he became the first professional cricketer of the 20th Century to captain England in Tests; under his captaincy England won the Ashes the following year for the first time in 19 years. Following the war, he was the mainstay of England's batting, and the team depended greatly on his success.

Marked out as a potential star from his teenage years, Hutton made his debut for Yorkshire in 1934 and quickly established himself at county level. By 1937, he was playing for England and when the war interrupted his career in 1939, critics regarded him as one of the leading batsmen in the country, and even the world. However, during the war, he received a serious injury to his arm while taking part in a commando training course. His arm never fully recovered, forcing him to alter his batting style. When cricket restarted, Hutton resumed his role as one of England's leading batsmen; by the time of England's tour to Australia in 1950–51, the team relied heavily on his batting and did so for the remainder of his career. As a batsman, Hutton was cautious and built his style on a sound defence. Although capable of attacking strokeplay, both Yorkshire and England depended on him greatly for their success, and awareness of this affected his style. Hutton remains statistically among the best batsmen to have played Test cricket.

Hutton captained the England Test team between 1952 and 1955, although his leadership was at times controversial. He pursued a cautious approach and faced criticism for negativity. Never comfortable in the role, Hutton felt that the former amateur players who administered and governed English cricket did not trust him. In 23 Tests as captain, he won eight Tests and lost four with the others drawn. Worn out by the mental and physical demands of his role, Hutton retired from regular first-class cricket during the 1955 season. He was knighted for his contributions to cricket in 1956. He went on to be a Test selector, a journalist and broadcaster. He also worked as a representative for an engineering firm until retiring from the job in 1984. Hutton remained involved in cricket, and became Yorkshire president in 1990. He died a few months afterwards in September 1990, aged 74.

Captain of England


Brown's resignation from the captaincy of England at the end of 1951 left no obvious replacement candidate. Traditionally, captains in county or Test cricket were amateurs, who usually came from privileged backgrounds, in contrast to professionals, who often came from the working classes. Consequently, class distinction pervaded cricket which was organised and administered by former and current amateurs,Birley, pp. 105–6. many of whom reasoned that professionals would not make good captains owing to their worries over safeguarding their contracts or concerns about affecting the livelihoods of other professionals. But in 1952, the selectors judged that none of the serving amateur county captains possessed the required ability or experience to fill the role of England captain. Consequently, the selectors decided to radically depart from tradition and appoint a professional captain.Gibson, p. 184. All previous England captains in home Test matches had been amateurs, and no professional had captained England in any match in the 20th century. However, as widely anticipated by the press, Hutton was appointed to captain England in the first Test of a four-match series against the 1952 Indian tourists. He harboured private doubts whether the cricket establishment would accept a professional captain, but declined to turn amateur, as Wally Hammond had done in 1938.Murphy, p. 145.Howat, pp. 105–07. The decision met with broad approval from the press, and the editor of Wisden wrote: "In breaking with tradition and choosing a professional as captain the Selection Committee made a vital decision in the interests of England, because it should mean that in future no man will be picked as leader unless he is worth a place in the side."Howat, p. 106. Hutton had not expected to be asked and had thought an amateur would have been appointed as usual.Marshall, p. 159. He presumed his appointment was an interim measure until a more suitable candidate could be found.Birley, p. 283.

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