February 16, 2023

Although he was not known as a particularly nervous starter and failed to score in only five of 138 Test innings, one unusual feature of Len Hutton’s career was that he made a duck on some kind of debut six times (to cite the last two instances is perhaps a little unfair in that he had played for Pudsey St Lawrence in his youth and had already captained England at home). He also scored a duck in his only game as captain of England against Australia in front of his own people, at Headingley in 1953, bowled by Ray Lindwall second ball.

Second XI debut

24 May 1933 – Yorkshire 2nd XI v Cheshire: c Tipping b Burgess 0

Hutton hung his bat at a rising ball from Burgess and was deservedly caught at slip.’ (Yorkshire Post)

Second XI Roses debut

6 June 1933 – Yorkshire 2nd XI v Lancashire: b Higson 0

Hutton, the young Pudsey batsman, appeared convinced that it was a four-day match, and for 25 minutes he remained a monument of caution before he was dismissed – without scoring!’ (Yorkshire Post)

First-class debut

2 May 1934 – Yorkshire v Cambridge University: run out 0

It is a long distance from wicket to pavilion at Fenners, especially when you have failed to score, and on this day the pavilion steps seemed further away than ever. Eventually I reached the dressing room, where Maurice Leyland consoled me with the words, “never mind, Len, you’ve started at the bottom.”’ (from a 1941 Hutton radio broadcast)

Test debut

26 June 1937 – England v New Zealand: b Cowie 0

On this occasion I would have dearly loved to return to the Pavilion by tube. The same evening, trying to take my mind off cricket, I visited the Cinema, only to see myself in the News Reel return to the Pavilion a sadder but wiser man’ (same broadcast). Hutton did better in the second innings: he scored 1.

First war-time game as captain of Pudsey St Lawrence

24 April 1943 – St Lawrence v Bankfoot: b Dedman 0

This was Hutton’s first serious game of cricket since he broke his right arm in a gymnasium accident, an injury that had to go in and out of plaster twelve times over the course of two years: ‘The duck I made was nothing compared with the grand fact I was playing again’ (quoted in Howat’s biography). The Bradford Observer records that Hutton did at least take three for 9 with his leg-spin, including ‘Captain Nixon’ caught and bowled for 0. Pudsey won by 3 wickets.

First game as captain of MCC abroad

16 December 1953 – MCC v Bermuda Pick of the Leagues XI: c Fereira b Mulder 0

‘”Hutton … Hutton out first ball, sir!” … Every man, woman and child of this enchanting island seemed to be proudly rolling the words around their tongues as though they carried magic properties’ (Alex Bannister, Caribbean Cauldron)

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