Len Hutton was not quite 18 when he made his debut for Yorkshire and quickly established himself at the top of the batting order.
He made his Test debut for England just three days after his 21st birthday (when he had shared an opening stand of 315 with Herbert Sutcliffe at Hull) and at the age of 22 broke the world record with a massive innings of 364 against Australia at the Oval. Like many of his generation, Hutton lost some of his best years to the Second World War and when he returned to the game it was with a slightly shortened left forearm following a bad break during training. Serious as the injury was, it did not prevent Hutton from cementing his place as one of the all-time great English batsmen. In 1952 he was appointed as England captain, the first professional cricketer to take on the role, leading his country to a first Ashes victory in 20 years in 1953 and a successful defence in Australia in 1954/55.
With India having been bowled out for just 235 in their first innings, England built a massive lead of 302 to put them well on their way. Hutton’s innings defined the English reply; cautious at first, in the two hours before lunch on day two he and Reg Simpson added only 60 runs. But after the interval Hutton found what Wisden called ‘his most scintillating form’. A brilliant partnership with Peter May added 158 in just 2 ½ hours and by the time Hutton fell at 264 for 2, England were firmly in charge with more than three days’ play remaining.
Sir Leonard Hutton (1916-1990)
79 Tests for England averaging 56.67 with the bat
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1938