Richard Hutton was born on September 6, 1942. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the career of an English all-rounder who was shrouded by the daunting stature of his legendary father.
Two things stopped Richard Anthony Hutton from making an impact on world cricket. First, he played his Tests for one of the strongest English sides of all time (though they famously lost the last Test he played); more importantly he was forever clouded by the imposing shadow of his illustrious father.
The pedigree was never questioned: the problem was him not being able to live up to the standards of Len Hutton (which was a difficult ask for anyone) and having to face criticism throughout his career. A lively fast-medium bowler who was quite efficient with the bat, Hutton played for Yorkshire from 1962 to 1964, often opening the bowling and providing lower-order solidity.
Things would have been different had he been a relatively ordinary cricketer; however, Richard was quite gifted on the field, which meant that the expectations on him were huge, and he had suffered from comparisons with his father from a very early age.
Hutton was quite tall, and could bowl lively in-swingers with the new ball, and his off-cutters with the old ball were more than effective. Bowling from a height he could also generate bounce, which, combined with the movement off the pitch, often turned out to be dangerous. His technique was tailor-made for English conditions: he stretched his long left foot out and drove the ball with a straight bat.
From 281 First-Class matches, Hutton picked up 625 wickets at 24.01 with 21 five-fors and three ten-fors; he also scored 7,561 runs at 21.48 with five hundreds. His five Tests earned him 219 runs at 36.50, nine wickets at 28.55, and nine catches, which probably meant that he was really unfortunate to not have played more Tests.
Just like their father, Richard and John Hutton (who went on to play for Yorkshire Second XI and MCC) were both born in Pudsey. Len’s brother-in-law Frank Dennis was a Yorkshire fast bowler (Frank’s son Simon also went on to be a successful left-arm seamer for Yorkshire).
Given the background it was obvious that Richard was brought up in an environment of cricket. He even went on to marry the daughter of the Somerset batsman Ben Brocklehurst.
Len had been brought up in a working-class family in Pudsey. His sons, however, went to Repton School, Richard leading it in 1961 and John in 1964. The image of a Yorkshire cricketer coming from a public school and Oxbridge background (he studied in Christ’s College, Cambridge) had not gone down well with the fans, and every single failure of Richard was pointed out.
Hutton made his debut for at FP Fenner’s Ground against Essex in 1962, scoring six and 29 and picking up two wickets. He had a decent first season, picking up five for 47 and two for 50 against Free Foresters at the same ground. It was his first five-for, and he eventually finished the season with a not-too-bad effort of 46 wickets from 24 matches at 32.73.
He also did a decent job with the bat as well, scoring 31 and 75 against Combined Services at FP Fenner’s Ground and following it with 55 and 49 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. His season tally read 780 runs at 21.66. It was certainly not a grand start, but it was not disappointing either.
Towards the end of the season he had an opportunity to play a few matches for Yorkshire; he excelled in particular against Kent at Gillingham, leading the rout with two for 20 and four for 40 despite the presence of a giant in the form of Fred Trueman.
The next season saw Hutton take another step forward. By now promoted to three for Cambridge, Hutton top-scored in each innings with 58 and 60 in a single-handed effort against Middlesex. Then came the famous match against Nottinghamshire: after Cambridge trailed by 60 Hutton (four for 39) and Tony Windows (six for 24) bowled virtually unchanged to skittle out the opposition for 63. With 124 to be scored, Mike Brearley (yes, he was the captain) had Hutton to open with him; the latter made a strokeful 57 out of a team score of 80, and the students romped home.
After Surrey were bowled out for 126 at Surrey at Guildford, Hutton outscored them single-handedly with 163 not out. Then came the Derbyshire match at Burton-on-Trent, where he took a career-best eight for 50 to rout Derbyshire for 122; with two for 30 in the second innings he claimed his first ten-for.
Once again he had a decent outing with Yorkshire. His season records read 1,122 runs at 27.36 and 50 wickets at 26.02. His performances earned him a Yorkshire cap next season. He also toured EW Swanton’s XI that winter that played in Penang, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, before eventually playing a match at Eden Gardens in which Hutton failed.
Losing and regaining form
Hutton’s batting fell off after that season, and he never crossed an average of 21 with the bat in a season from 1965 to 1969. On the other hand, he improved significantly as a bowler, with his average never going beyond the 25-mark barring the 25.85 in 1967.
The turnaround came in 1970. He got his first century after 1963 when he scored 104 in the season opener against Derbyshire at Bradford. The innings boosted his confidence, and he became a significantly improved batsman and bowler for the rest of the season.
He picked up four for 27 and three for 49, bowling in tandem with a young Chris Old against Kent at Bramall Lane. The performance of the season, however, came against Middlesex at Lord’s, where Hutton picked up four for 39 and six for 83 — thereby claiming his first ten-for in seven years.
A few days later Hutton picked up six for 81 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. He finished the season with 875 runs at 28.22 and 74 wickets at 21.58. At 28 he seemed to have regained his form.
The year 1971 began on an even stronger note: against Oxford University at The Oxford University Parks, Hutton scored 101; he got to bowl only six overs in which he picked up three for 12. In the next match he picked up five for 54 against Sussex at Hove; by now he had also been promoted to Geoff Boycott’s Yorkshire opening partner.
Playing for MCC against the touring Pakistanis, Hutton picked up three for 52, and shortly afterwards, he achieved the ultimate dream of a Yorkshire pacer: he picked up a ten-for in a rain-affected Battle of the Roses.
Playing at Old Trafford he picked up six for 38 to bowl out Lancashire for 168; after Peter Lever retaliated with a five for 27 to bowl out the tourists for 79, Hutton hit them back again, picking up five for 24 to bowl out Lancashire for 75. With 165 to be scored, Yorkshire finished amidst great tension at 103 for six. The 11 for 62 would also remain his career-best match-haul.
All eyes were on Hutton after his performance in the Roses’ match. Coming out to bat at 159 for four against the touring Pakistanis at Headingley he slammed a career-best 189 in a match where the last day’s play was washed off. His form earned him a spot in the second Test of the ongoing series at Lord’s.
It was yet another rain-affected match: by the time England could declare at 241 for two it was already the fourth afternoon. Hutton then removed Aftab Gul and Mushtaq Mohammad, finishing with two for 36 as Pakistan collapsed from 57 without loss to 148.
With nothing to play for Ray Illingworth sent Hutton to open with Brian Luckhurst. The duo came back at stumps at 117; Hutton hit five fours and a six in his cautious 149-ball unbeaten 58. His father would have been a proud man: after all, he had scored a duck and one on debut himself.
Hutton contributed in the close affair in the third Test at Headingley as well with 28 and a marathon spell of 41-8-72-3, which would eventually become his best figures in Test cricket; these were crucial contributions as England won the Test by 25 runs, claiming the series.
India toured England in the second half of the summer: once again Hutton did a decent job, scoring 20 and picking up two for 38 at Lord’s; the second Test at Old Trafford saw him pick up two more wickets. He had not really done anything major in the highest level till then, but had chipped in with minor contributions in every Test. Before the third Test Hutton went on take his third consecutive five-for in a Roses’ match when he routed Lancashire with figures of five for 58 at Bramall Lane.
The Indians kept on picking up wickets in the first innings at The Oval despite a defiant 82 from John Jameson. The Indians spinners — Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan — supported by Eknath Solkar, had England six down for 175 when Hutton joined Alan Knott.
The pair added 103 in 66 minutes — a new seventh-wicket record for England against India in Tests. Wisden wrote that Knott and Hutton “attacked the bowling with relish”. After Knott’s belligerent 90 Hutton carried on, being the last man to be dismissed for a career-best 125-ball 81 with 13 fours.
The rest, as they say, was history. Hutton bowled 12 wicketless overs on a turning track in the first innings where Illingworth ensured that England had a 71-run lead. Hutton found himself coming in 65 for six in the second innings amidst a Chandra rout: he lost Luckhurst immediately, and was left stranded on a 44-ball 13 as Chandra picked up six for 38 to bowl England out for 101.
Hutton did not get a bowl in the fourth innings as Illingworth and Derek Underwood virtually bowled throughout on a rapidly deteriorating track, with the captain even resorting to Luckhurst’s left-arm spin (that too, successfully, as he had Gundappa Viswanath caught behind). India won their first Test and series on English soil.
Hutton continued to do well, returning figures of 12-9-6-4 to bowl out Northamptonshire for 61 in his last match of the season at Harrogate. Hutton finished the season with 1,009 runs at 31.53 and 80 wickets at 20.35; nobody would imagine that the 29-year-old would not play another Test.
Rubbing shoulders with the giants
After South Africa’s tour of Australia in 1971-72 was called off a World XI was invited to tour the country. Hutton was perhaps the most surprising inclusion in a side that consisted of some of the greatest names in world cricket. Hutton played seven matches on the tour and struggled in each and every one, scoring 88 runs at 8.80 and picking up seven wickets at 52.85. After an immensely successful home season this probably came as a reality check for Hutton.
He has back at his best on return: he started with three for 22 and three for 15 in an emphatic victory over Gloucestershire at Middlesbrough; in his next match he picked up five for 72 against Somerset at Taunton; and shortly afterwards he had a spell of five for 27 when Yorkshire bowled out Glamorgan for 86 at Scarborough. He finished 1972 with 54 wickets at 20.53.
Thereafter, he was involved in the internal politics of the club that marred Yorkshire cricket of that era, having a major fall-out with Boycott. His opportunities for the county became limited, and even if he played, he was under-bowled and on a few occasions, not given a bowl at all.
He played only six matches in 1973 but had a longer stretch in his final season for Yorkshire. Bowling sporadically under Boycott (he bowled only 86 deliveries per match) he picked up 24 wickets in 18 matches at 25.83, his best performance of six for 85 coming against Essex at Leyton. He also scored 102 not out against Somerset at Bath.
Thereafter, he quit playing cricket for Yorkshire and concentrated in his own business. He later accepted a call-up from Transvaal in 1975-76; in the two matches against Natal and Rhodesia he scored 14 runs and did not get a bowl. The last match also brought a curtain on his First-Class career.
Hutton went on to become the editor of The Cricketer. His elder son Ben went on to lead Middlesex in 2005 and 2006, and the eyes of old-timers had lit up when Ben and Nick Compton put up 127 runs for the second wicket for Middlesex against Worcestershire at New Road in 2004, taking them two generations back. Ben’s brother Ollie has also played First-Class cricket.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)