Len Hutton : biography

23 June 1916 - 6 September 1990

Leading batsman

From October 1938, Hutton toured South Africa with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)—the name by which England teams toured at the time—under the captaincy of Hammond; England won the series 1–0, with the other four games drawn. He scored centuries in two early matches but in a match against Transvaal, a delivery from Eric Davies knocked him unconscious and forced him to miss the first Test.Howat, p. 43. Unsuccessful on his return in the second Test, Hutton scored a double century in the following tour match, but had another low score in the third Test, which England won. Hutton was more successful in the final Tests. In the fourth, on a difficult pitch for batting, he scored 92. The final Test was drawn after ten days of play in a supposedly "timeless" Test. In a match which set a record aggregate of runs, Hutton scored 38 and 55 but his contributions were overshadowed by the heavy scoring of others.Howat, p. 44. Although Hutton scored 265 runs in the Test series, at an average of 44.16, critics were disappointed, expecting more after his record innings of 1938. In all first-class matches, he scored 1,168 runs at an average of 64.88, the highest aggregate among the tourists, and accumulated five centuries. Spectators found his batting attractive and the Wisden correspondent regarded him the most accomplished batsman on the tour.

In its summary of the 1939 season, Wisden noted the development of Hutton into a more exciting batsman to watch, observing that he "gave further evidence of being one of the world's greatest batsmen". He began to dominate opening partnerships with Sutcliffe, in contrast to prior seasons when he was the junior partner.Hill, p. 174. In total, he scored 2,883 runs, over 400 more than any other batsman and his average of 62.27 placed him second in the national averages behind Hammond.Howat, p. 45. Among his twelve centuries, Hutton scored his highest total for Yorkshire, 280 not out in six hours against Hampshire, sharing an opening partnership of 315 with Sutcliffe. Hutton's contributions helped Yorkshire to their third successive Championship. Hutton was also successful in representative matches, scoring 86 for the Players against the Gentlemen, and compiling 480 runs (averaging 96.00) in the Test matches against West Indies. England won the series, after recording victory in the first match and drawing the others. Hutton scored 196 in the first Test, hitting his last 96 runs in 95 minutes; he and Denis Compton scored 248 runs together in 133 minutes. After low scores in the second Test, Hutton scored 73 and 165 not out in the final game at the Oval. Facing a West Indian lead of 146, Hutton batted five hours in the second innings, sharing a partnership of 264 with Hammond. Hutton ended his season with a century against Sussex in Yorkshire's final match before the war; two days after its conclusion, the Second World War began.Howat, pp. 48–49.

Wartime injury and recovery

At the beginning of the war, Hutton volunteered for the army and was recruited to the Army Physical Training Corps as a sergeant-instructor.Howat, p. 51. Although no first-class cricket was played during the war, league and charity cricket matches continued and Hutton played several high-profile matches in 1940.Howat, p. 52. But in March 1941, his future in cricket was threatened by a serious injury. On the last day of a commando training course in York, Hutton fell in the gymnasium when a mat slipped from under him. He suffered a fractured left forearm and dislocated his ulna at the wrist. By the summer, surgery and rest initially looked to have repaired the injury; Hutton returned to his unit and resumed cricket, scoring a century in one game. However, he began to suffer increasing pain and underwent more surgery to graft bone from his legs onto the injured arm. A first operation failed, but the second attempt at the end of 1941 eventually proved successful.Howat, pp. 53–54. Hutton was discharged from the army in the summer of 1942 and after a period of recovery he began work as a civilian for the Royal Engineers, inspecting the condition of government-owned properties. However, the surgery left him with a left arm almost two inches shorter than the right.Howat, pp. 54–55. His subsequent recovery and return to cricket was closely followed by the wartime press, which kept track of many pre-war cricketers.Birley, p. 268.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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