Len Hutton : biography

23 June 1916 - 6 September 1990

In early matches of the 1938 season, with an Ashes series against Australia pending, Hutton made three centuries and scored 93 not out. Selected for a Test trial, he shared a century opening partnership with Bill Edrich,Howat, pp. 32–33. and was selected for the first Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham beginning on 28 June. In just over three hours, Hutton scored 100 from 221 deliveries on his Ashes debut, adding 219 with Charlie Barnett for the first wicket. England, in Wally Hammond's first match as Test captain, posted a total of 658 for eight wickets, but the match was drawn. Hutton failed in the second Test, with two single figure scores in another drawn game. He was generally unsuccessful with the bat in the following weeks, during which the third Test was entirely rained off. Following a sequence of low scores for Yorkshire, Hutton's finger was broken in a match against Middlesex played on a dangerous pitch at Lord's. Consequently he could not play in the fourth Test, played at his home ground, Headingley, in which England were soundly beaten.Howat, pp. 34–35. After missing a month of cricket, Hutton played just two games before his selection for the final Test of the series.Howat, p. 35.

Test record score

The last Test was played at The Oval and began on 20 August 1938. Hammond won the toss on a very good pitch for batting, and after an early wicket fell, Hutton and Maurice Leyland, his Yorkshire teammate, took the score to 347 for one wicket after the first day. Hutton was unbeaten on 160 although Australia missed a chance to dismiss him, stumped, when he had scored 40. After a rest day, the Yorkshire batsmen took their partnership to 382 before Leyland was out. Hutton then shared substantial partnerships with Hammond and Joe Hardstaff junior, taking his personal score to 300 at the end of the second day, out of a total of 634 for five. In the process he surpassed the previous highest Test score by an England batsman in a home match. Hutton maintained caution throughout; Wisden commented that his dominance of the bowling had become slightly monotonous after two days, although it recognised his skill. On the third day (23 August), the Australians made a concerted effort to dismiss Hutton before he broke Bradman's 1930 record Ashes score of 334; although the record score in a Test match was Hammond's 336 not out against New Zealand, it was compiled against what was perceived as inferior bowling, and Bradman's total was more prestigious. Although showing nerves as he approached the record, Hutton passed Bradman's score with a cut off Chuck Fleetwood-Smith,Howat, p. 37. and extended his score to 364 before he was out, caught. Lasting for more than 13 hours, Hutton's innings was the longest in first-class cricket at the time. It was only the sixth Test of his career. The innings was the highest individual score in a Test until Garfield Sobers scored 365 in 1958; in 2013 it remains the 6th highest in Tests and is the most runs scored in an innings by an English player. England eventually scored 903, the highest team total in a Test at that time, before Hammond declared the innings closed. Australia were bowled out twice and England won by an innings and 579 runs to draw the series with one victory apiece.

Commentators mainly praised Hutton's concentration and stamina; his slow scoring, particularly when compared to Bradman's innings of 334, was excused on the grounds that the Oval match was played without a time limit, and run accumulation was more important than fast scoring. Furthermore, Hammond had instructed Hutton to bat as long as possible.Howat, pp. 39–40. Among views expressed by Test cricketers, Les Ames believed that while Hutton had shown great skill, a combination of a very easy wicket for batting and an unusually weak bowling attack presented an ideal opportunity. Former England captain Bob Wyatt described the innings as one of the greatest feats of concentration and endurance in the history of the game.Hill, pp. 177–78. Some critics expressed distaste at England's approach, but this opinion was not widely shared.Birley, pp. 257–58. In the aftermath of the innings, Hutton became famous, in constant demand from the public and press who compared him to Bradman. Hutton later described the acclamation he received as one of the worst things that happened to him, not least because expectations were unreasonably high every time he subsequently batted.Howat, pp. 40–42. When the season ended, Hutton had scored 1,874 runs in all matches at an average of 60.45.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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