‘with all the honours of war’ … the Confederate General Robert Lee.
The first phrase is Warner’s generic phrase for gallant captains down under (Between Two Wars, p.27); the specific comparison of Brown to Lee is in Long Innings, p.192-93.
Charles Fenby, editor of the Birmingham Gazette, provided a suitable retort – even if he was in fact pondering England’s recent defeats to Hungary and ‘Yugo-Slavia’ in football:
Note here that the one Englishman who actually wins team games—Mr. Len Hutton is by no means universally praised in sporting circles, is the target in fact of nagging criticism, and has even been advised by one cricket writer to be more like Prince Rupert and Rommel (both on the losing side).
(Birmingham Gazette, 28 May 1954, p.4)
‘Precisely, said those still suspicious of professional captaincy…’
Gibson, Cricket Captains, p.186.
Michael Down makes a similar observation: ‘There were plenty of traditionalists waiting in the wings to say that a pro could not handle the social and man-management demands of a tour’ (Is It Cricket?, p.110).
‘We may well win the Ashes, but we may very well lose a Dominion.’
Another canonical quotation, with many variants: see, for example, Swanton, Sort of a Cricket Person, p.67.
‘did not manage to leave behind the sort of memories…’
Swanton, West Indian Adventure, p.13.
‘had Len been persuaded that a bloody battle…’
Allen, letter to Palmer, reproduced in Miller, Charles Palmer, p.99.
Palmer recalled ‘there were one or two people who made you feel…’
Miller, Charles Palmer, p.99.
Hutton’s feeling ‘run down, and rather dispirited’
Hutton, Just My Story, p.71.
Its main Committee approved in the playing conditions for 1954…
The announcement of these changes was made on 5 April 1954; Hutton’s men set sail back for England on 6 April.
‘on their return from the West Indies…’
MCC Committee minutes: ‘A letter received from the President of the West Indies Cricket Board of Control was considered, and it was decided that the President, the Treasurer and the Secretary should meet Messrs. Hutton and Palmer on their return from the West Indies in order that the contents of this letter might be discussed.’
Dos Santos had of course written a letter to Lord’s apologising to them for the disturbance in British Guiana, but one suspects that he also commented, there or elsewhere, on the ‘manners’ already noted by Nunes.
Hutton…met the selectors after his game had finished on 4 May
The Times noted it was ‘customary’ for a touring captain to meet the home selectors on his return, but also felt the meeting ‘may be regarded as the first step to his appointment as England’s captain for the forthcoming test series against Pakistan’.
It was left to Palmer alone – for whatever reason –
The main reason was that Yorkshire had a game against Oxford University beginning on 5 May, a fixture more important than it would be now (and indeed it would no longer be first-class). The schedules for MCC Committee meetings were also set in stone, not least so that committee members travelling into London could plan arrangements in advance. I don’t therefore want to make too much of this – but surely if Hutton had been an amateur he would have been expected to attend the debrief to the main Committee.
You had to take a section of the committee which was…
Allen, letter to Palmer, reproduced in Miller, Charles Palmer, p.99
‘Do you think a manager on a rather higher level is a solution…?’
Allen, letter to Palmer, reproduced in Miller, Charles Palmer, p.99.
‘a certain amount of witch-hunting going on at Lord’s’
Bray, Daily Herald, 10 May 1954, p.8, from which the other quotations in this paragraph are taken.
Such limitation of tenure was, as Ian Peebles put it, ‘customary’…
In his review of the captaincy debate in The Ashes 1954-55, p.15. In practice, ‘tenure’ was sometimes confirmed for more than one Test as the season progressed.
C.B. Fry (in the special circumstances of the Triangular Tournament of 1912)…
This was certainly Hutton’s belief – he ‘willingly accepted’ the custom (Just My Story, pp.18-19) -and Swanton’s (Sort of a Cricket Person, p.185).
Simon Wilde suggests that McLaren took the captaincy in 1909 under the same terms, which had previously been offered to F.S. Jackson (England, p. 65), but generally concurs that ‘before the 1950s it was not the habit of selectors to assure a leader that he was in post for the entirety of a home season’ (p.69).
Hutton had been appointed on a Test-by-Test basis…
As just noted above, he was in practice told at a certain point he would be in charge for the rest of the summer – after the second Test against India in 1952 and after the third Test at Old Trafford in 1953.
‘A behind the scenes campaign has been launched…’
Bray, Daily Herald, 17 May 1954, p.8. [Bray hyphenates only one leg of ‘behind-the scenes’ so I have left it unhyphenated.]
‘There had been some unhappy moments on the West Indies tour…’
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.126.
‘very influential members of the MCC’ were now supporting his candidature
Bray, Daily Herald, 17 May 1954, p.8.
Warner confided to Menzies that he ‘told them’ Hutton was no leader
Warner to Menzies, quoted in Howat’s Plum Warner, p.201.
‘an eleven is the reflex of its leader, as is a company or a battalion,…’
Sir Pelham Warner, ‘Some Thoughts on Captaincy’, Cricketer, 1 May 1954, p.106, 15 May 1954, pp.153-54.
This was an adaptation of passages in Warner’s 1951 autobiography Long Innings (see p.203 for the phrase quoted). Another observation in this essay which might now be considered particularly relevant was that ‘good manners are a great asset’ (p.106).
an article on leadership … paying tribute to Robins as ‘a great psychologist’
W[ilf] Wooller, ‘A Question of Psychology’, Cricketer, 15 May 1954, p.158.
he ‘seems to have acted, not for the first or last time…’
Gibson, Cricket Captains, p.187.
When Sheppard felt he could be more ‘indiscreet’ …
All the Sheppard quotations in this paragraph are from his interview with Michael Marshall in the mid 1980s (Gentlemen and Players, p.162).
Allen, when chairman in 1956…
On the other hand, Allen was generally wary of any player who was not available for England at all times. But the Cricket Society Bulletin, 610 (Feb/March 2021) is still probably right to assert that back in 1954 Allen was ‘intriguing, as was his wont and trying to depose Len Hutton at every opportunity in favour of David Sheppard’ (p.10).
given their rival claims to the England captaincy and some unsavoury incidents
Rendell touches upon these in Walter Robins, pp.59-63, 75.
‘Who killed Cock Robin?’
See Rendell, Walter Robins, p.76. One presumes any Yorkshire supporters present may have placed the emphasis on the ‘Cock’.
Some newsreel footage of the game is notable for an unusually aggressive stroke by Ticker Mitchell.
‘’Ere ’e cooms’, ‘Call thesel’ a selector?’ ‘Where’s ’Utton?’
E.R.T. Holmes, Flannelled Foolishness, pp.174-75.
Holmes told the story wittily against himself
Alec Bedser, quoted in Knox, Bradman’s War, p.226: ‘It is to his eternal credit that nobody was more amused than the victim.’
In his autobiography, Holmes tells the tale wonderfully, and his account is largely corroborated by the scorecard and a reference in The Yorkshire Post to his being ‘greeted with some severe comment from the crowd’. One of the nicest details comes after the ‘taunts and abuse’ on Holmes’s second long walk back to the pavilion. He tried to brush off the only spectator who came up to apologise. But the man gave him two bars of chocolate, still strictly rationed in 1948: “Take these and give them to your kids” (Flannelled Foolishness, pp.175).
Holmes give a little speech at about 2:40 in this Centenary Appeal for Surrey in 1946, which is of period interest also for its images of the war-ravaged Oval. He also speaks as leader of the goodwill MCC tour to Australia in 1934/35 in this newsreel.
resentment towards the north
The north/south rivalry seems rather light-hearted in this 1947 newsreel where Robins celebrates Middlesex winning the Championship, but he felt it keenly throughout his tenure as Middlesex captain.
Fingleton, no doubt with a degree of mischief, reports Jardine saying that Brown dropped himself at Old Trafford and Headingley in 1953 because ‘he would rather not present himself to the straight-speaking spectators of the north’ (Ashes Crown the Year, p.167).
‘cloak-and-dagger’ operation … ‘conspiratorial’ approach
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.126.
I got various mysterious messages from him…
Marshall, Gentleman and Players, pp.162.
Sheppard, who had suggested he might play 12 games for Sussex
Sheppard’s original understanding with Sussex was reported across the Thomson regional newspaper network on 25 June 1954, once he had been announced temporary England captain. The Times, in its pre-season preview, had assumed he might play ‘10 or 12’ matches for Sussex.
‘As I thought about the first question and discussed it with older friends…’
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.127.
Sheppard says Sykes ‘encouraged’ him to feel that Hutton would ‘welcome’…
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.127.
‘Sheppard, without for a moment considering abandoning his call…’
Gibson, Cricket Captains, p.186.
the ‘best plan was to say nothing’
Hutton, Just My Story, p.73.
Frank Stainton was reporting, as early as 22 May in the Green ’Un (p.2) that Hutton ‘if chosen, would prepared go to Australia again—whether as captain, or an ordinary member of the team’. Stainton felt this was ‘characteristic’ of Hutton, but already worried about his being usurped by the ‘rankest form of social snobbery’.
In the first, he recounts a conversation in Cambridge in 1952…
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.126-27.
In the second, a similar conversation moves to 1954: ‘I think…’
Marshall, Gentleman and Players, pp.162-63. Note that the wording here is almost exactly the same as in the first version: ‘I think they’re going to ask you to captain England, and I hope you’ll accept’ (Parson’s Pitch, p.127).
the Yorkshire tale where Emmott Robinson told Major Lupton
Such a canonical story that the Lancastrian Colin Schindler revels in it during a diatribe against amateurism in Manchester United Ruined My Life.
Rhodes also reputedly claimed that England won at The Oval in 1926 because the amateur captain Percy Chapman ‘did what me and Jack [Hobbs] told him’ (cited in Wilde, England, p.160). According to Freddie Trueman Talks Cricket (p.59), Rhodes used to say that even Lord Hawke ‘did as he wor told’.
‘Perhaps the simplest thing would have been to ask Len himself…’
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.127.
After considerable discussion in which Mr. C.H. Palmer and Mr. R.W.V. Robins…
MCC Committee, 31 May 1954, minute 1.
Just My Story, p.125: ‘Sir William Worsley, of Hovingham Hall, near York, an ex-captain of Yorkshire, has also taken the keenest interest in my career. His frequent letters when I was on tour meant a great deal to me.’ (I should register the fact that in this passage Worsley is paired with Warner, whom I think is not being paid as fulsome a compliment as it may appear.)
‘for the purpose of considering the captaincy’
MCC Committee, 31 May 1954.
‘You say you hope those in authority have still “a little faith” in me…’
Swanton, two-page private letter from 17 Loudon Road on his headed paper, addressed to ‘My Dear Len’, 1 June 1954 (MCC Archive, HUTTON/4).
‘The moral is the one that sticks out a mile to anyone who has played…’
Swanton, ‘Selecting the Captain of a Touring Team’, Daily Telegraph, 12 July 1954, p.4.
This theory dates back to the time when MCC tours were more obviously ‘imperial enterprises’. Frederick Toone, manager of several of them and knighted for promoting good relations between ‘the Commonwealth and the mother country’, opined that the criteria for overseas tours should not be confined to playing ability: ‘Players … selected to take part in them – and this has always been borne in mind by MCC – should not be chosen for their cricket qualities alone. They must be men of good character, high principle, easy of address, and in every personal sense worthy of representing their country, in all circumstances’ (quoted in Wilde, England, p.139). Toone also happened to be a member of the British Union of Fascists in the 1920s.
He ascribed his back trouble to a ‘sharp change in climate’
Hutton, as reported by Daily Herald, 24 June 1954, p.1.
under severe stress
As Kilburn puts it, in Thanks to Cricket (p.98), perhaps slightly overplaying Hutton’s reticence:
‘Sheppard has written that he would have interrupted his ordination training to tour Australia as captain to go as captain but not to go merely as a player. Hutton has written nothing on the subject and he said nothing at the time, but in the period of uncertainty he was greatly troubled. His physical ailment was certainly being aggravated by his mental unease.’
the recent death of his ‘second father’, George Hirst
Hutton, Fifty Years, p.31. Hirst died on 10 May. His Times obituary described him as ‘without doubt the most popular cricketer of all time’ (p.10).
a comment about Hutton being a ‘Staff Officer’ not a ‘Battalion Commander’
Swanton, West Indian Adventure, p.20.
‘that I should be relieved of the leadership so that I could “concentrate”…’
Hutton, Just My Story, p.73.
Funnily enough, the journalist who ghosted these words was probably one of the first to make such a suggestion with regard to Australia – Reg Hayter was probably the author of ‘Caribbean Reflections’, in The Times (13 April 1954, p.4):
The first duty of the selection committee [for Australia] will be to elect a captain. Hutton must be first favourite but, superb batsman that he is, he is an adequate rather than an inspired or brilliant leader. Perhaps he should not be asked to do more than continue to be the mainstay of the batting, but to name an alternative to-day would be difficult.
And this argument was the one given to Bray by the ‘influential’ faction in MCC when he leaked the plan: ‘They believe that Hutton should be relieved the cares of captaincy in Australia – not because he has proved to be a bad captain, but because he is seven-tenths of the England batting and should allowed maximum relaxation when not actually playing’ (Daily Herald, 17 May 1954, p.8). Peebles later reflected: ‘Some averted that he was a faulty tactician and that several very dreary batting performances were due to the fact that his batsmen endeavoured to imitate his inimitable defensive methods in the absence of any clearly postulated policy’ (Ashes, p.14).
No doubt the first innings in Barbados was the performance that had stuck in many minds.
‘on the evidence of the West Indies tour, the cares of captaincy…’
Aird, letter to J.S. Gilisead (based in Hamburg and possibly a military man), 6 December 1954. This was in reply to a letter of 1 December, calling for May to be appointed England captain immediately because of ‘the fundamental defensiveness of Hutton’s attitude to the game’ (MCC Archive, SEC 3/54).
‘a former England captain told me of a move in the “inner circle…”’
Hutton, Just My Story, p.73.
Jardine was … on the MCC sub-committee which dealt with the logistics
Jardine was appointed to this Sub-Committee, along with Allen, Wyatt, Robins and Brown, by the Cricket Sub-Committee (on which he also sat) at its meeting of 15 July 1953 (minute 10).
Hutton decided to act on this ‘information’
Just My Story, p.73.
Wisden records that he looked ‘plainly out of form’
1954 Wisden, p.444.
In fairness, Moss was a master of the Lord’s slope, and will no doubt have wanted to make his mark on Hutton with the Australia tour in mind.
a visit to Aird’s office ‘to go frankly into the question with him’
Just My Story, p.73.
‘equally pleased’ to ‘give my fullest support to whoever else was elected’
Just My Story, p.73.
‘its origin had not been the headquarters of MCC at Lord’s’
Just My Story, p.74.
‘crying need for someone to bring back into the higher ranks of English cricket…’
Quoted in Bradstock, Batting for the Poor.
‘I can remember driving to one of the Essex grounds…’
Kilburn, in Len Hutton Remembered, p.124.
what Bray had called a ‘long-term’ plan for Australia
Daily Herald, 25 June 1954, p.1
‘anti-Hutton brigade’ at Lord’s
Pat Marshall, Daily Express, 25 June 1954, p.5, in an article fearing that Sheppard will ‘almost certainly’ be made captain and alleging that his supporters ‘rejoiced’ at Hutton’s health issues.
knocking the ‘first nail’ in the coffin
Hall, Daily Mirror, 25 June 1954, p.15: ‘No wonder Len Hutton is now a sick man. For months a whispering campaign has been knifing him.’
Allen Synge is essentially correct to point out that Sheppard’s appointment was inevitably interpreted by ‘many sections of the press as the first stage of a right-wing coup aimed at the overthrow of Hutton and the restoration of amateur leadership’ (Sins of Omission, p. 120).
David Kynaston has highlighted the ‘undeniable class tincture’
Family Britain, p.400.
‘The Press had made some play of the amateur and professional aspect…’
Ross, Australia 55, pp.14-15.
Ross was in fact a supporter of Sheppard at the time, although he warmed to Hutton’s captaincy on tour, so it is conceivable I am reading sarcasm where there was none.
‘strong accent on defence’ … ‘a young cricketer of strong character …’
Swanton, Daily Telegraph, 12 July 1954, p.4.
Bob Appleyard, a Hutton loyalist, certainly felt Swanton was ‘pressing for the amateur’ Sheppard to take over (A Tribute to Len Hutton, about 50 minutes in).
‘mild thoughts’ … ‘recent developments’
C.B. Fry, Cricketer, 10 July 1954, p.293, from which the remaining quotations in this paragraph are also taken.
‘What bilge! What disgustingly outdated poppycock!’
Hall, Daily Mirror, 14 July 1954, p.13.
Such outbursts against the amateur ethos have a longer history than we might think. The Old Ebor website cites the reaction of ‘Argus Junior’ in the Sports Argus, during the Sutcliffe affair in 1927, to the notion that only amateurs could captain: “What ridiculous nonsense! What a warped idea! What sportsmanship!”
it was the main topic of discussion on BBC’s Sporting Questions on 23 July
According to the Radio Times (18 July 1954, p.39), that evening’s panel was chaired by Alan Gibson and also featured the cricket writer Denzil Batchelor.
The week before the Daily Express had conducted a poll of its readers, announcing the results on 19 July – 90.7% for Hutton and 9.3% for Sheppard (p.3).
It has sometimes been surmised that it was influenced by Sheppard’s double failure…
Fay and Kynaston, Swanton and Arlott, p.113.
Hutton should be made captain, subject to a ‘final medical examination before sailing’
MCC Australia Selection Sub-Committee, 14 July 1954, minute 3.
Hutton had been recommended by ‘only a single vote’
‘Notes by the Editor’, 1955 Wisden, p.82: ‘In the end only a single vote gained Hutton the honour of taking the team to Australia’.
In an affair faintly reminiscent of the campaign against Hutton in 1954, Brian Close was selected as tour captain to the West Indies in 1967/68, only for the full MCC Committee to vote 14-4 to strip him of the office for time-wasting in a Yorkshire v Warwickshire game.
at the request of MCC, who ‘have stated that Hutton received a unanimous vote’
‘Notes by the Editor’, 1956 Wisden, p.75: ‘M.C.C. have stated that Hutton received a unanimous vote when he was chosen captain of the team for Australia and that the margin was not by a single vote as appeared in these notes a year ago.’
‘I went for Hutton for the simple reason that I’d lived with him…’
Miller, Charles Palmer, p.104.
Allen had been instrumental in admitting him to the inner circle…
By sponsoring his candidature as Treasurer against Warner’s preferred candidate.
Altham proudly cited Sheppard…
Doggart (ed.), The Heart of Cricket, p.154.
He was responding to an Australian bowler who said he preferred to bowl at ‘coloured caps’: ‘If their wearers are to be identified with the products of our leading schools and universities, I would suggest that some at least of them, witness Messrs. May, Cowdrey, Dexter and Sheppard, do not appear to have been fatally handicapped.’
– who would give the eulogy at his memorial service –
Sheppard was admittedly in demand as an ordained cricketer: he also gave the eulogy at Hutton’s memorial service.
But he seems to have been less bumptious than some in the inner circle
Synge describes Altham as ‘something of a snob, at least in the cricket sense’ (Sins of Omission, p.120). He also seems to have been part of the inner circle’s South African lobby. But several professionals testify to the help and support Altham gave them.
‘For once Gubby was in sparkling form…’
Griffith, letter to Aird, 21 September 1954, which touches on an after-party at Allen’s grace-and-favour house next to Lords, following the dinner to see Hutton’s men on their way to Australia.
without either Test-playing experience or experience as a county captain
Admittedly, Percy Perrin captained Essex in only 28 of his 525 appearances for the county and A.J. Holmes was a mediocre cricketer, even if he would have led an MCC tour to India in 1939/40 had war not intervened
According to Altham’s grandson, Robin Brodhurst, he frequently corresponded…
Warner opined in 1955 that the selection committee and captain should be ‘very close to each other and intime’ (Long Innings, p.97).
‘visited Sheffield and seen both L. Hutton and his doctor…’
Australia Selection Sub-Committee 14 July 1954, minute 2: ‘The Chairman reported that he had visited Sheffield and seen both L. Hutton and his doctor and had received a satisfactory report on Hutton’s health’.
Hutton’s persistent ‘physical and mental’ issues…
Just My Story, p.71.
‘northern’ … ‘toughness of fibre’ … ‘These are the armour for combat…’
Altham and Swanton, History of Cricket, fourth edition, p.465, in a new final chapter (Chapter 32).
Altham’s introduction says the burden of the revisions for the new edition had been ‘shared’, but I have made the assumption that most of the new chapter is by him (it certainly feels more in his style than Swanton’s). One cannot be as certain about ascribing revisions to Altham as one can for the third edition: ‘It was only in time to correct the proofs that Mr Swanton returned from the Far East where in a Japanese prison-camp he had done so much to prove that cricket and morale go hand in hand.’ It should also be noted that in the fifth edition Swanton was explicitly credited with writing the chapters on modern cricket.
‘I feel we’ve been unfair to Len. He was in a very difficult position…’
Sheppard, Parson’s Pitch, p.128.
Robins waved cheerily in recognition of Sheppard’s superb century for the Gentlemen
Allen Synge tells this story with typical panache in Sins of Omission. Sheppard himself, in his last memoir, On Hope Street, remembered that after his century the papers assumed he would be made captain: ‘At the end of the next day’s play I was sitting, very tired, in the dressing room. Two journalists asked if they could talk to me. “What did I think about the announcement of the captaincy for Australia?” I hadn’t heard anything. Ted Dexter had been appointed. That was fine, and we became good friends on tour. But it wasn’t the best way for me to hear. Walter Robins might have told me.’
It may have been slightly more complicated: Allen is sometimes regarded as Dexter’s crucial supporter, suddenly becoming a voting selector again on the issue, partly because he distrusted Sheppard for his attempts to isolate South Africa from world cricket (see Wilde, England, pp.240-41). See also Kynaston, On the Cusp, pp.97-100.
‘Sheppard with Hutton as V/Captain would be the better combination’
Ashton to Aird, 17 July 1954 (MCC Archive SEC 3/54). Ashton made this comment despite being privy to the ‘recommendation’ Hutton should captain.
‘the bottom fell out of the controversy’
Just My Story, p.75.
‘I’m relieved to know that the MCC selectors have thought…’
Daily Mirror, 20 July 1954.
‘How much easier I would have found it to manage the tour …’
Chalke, Remembered Gate, p.96.
… ‘lamentable’ that Hutton was not given a ‘distinguished player’
Compare Chalke, At the Heart of English Cricket, p.18-19 with Swanton in Australia, p.70, both alluding to the Telegraph piece Swanton wrote after the party was announced.
For journalists like Hall of the Mirror, who felt they were representing the working man, the detail of Howard’s ‘short clipped military moustache’ allowed him to be represented as a potentially aloof disciplinarian. Whilst ostensibly welcoming off-field support to Hutton, Hall also alluded acidly to the fact Howard’s first-class career constituted three games: ‘he has played enough in his time to be able to appreciate failure’.
Altham seems to have been conscious of the danger, evident at times in the West Indies, that Hutton might plough his own furrow without the ‘distinguished player’ Swanton had hoped would chaperone him. This is revealed in an MCC Committee minute which observes the old niceties in its forms of address for player and gentleman: ‘The Treasurer reported interviews he had had with L. Hutton and Mr C.G. Howard in regard to the co-operation between the Captain and the Manager during the coming tour and that he had stressed the importance of their working as one unit at all times.’
‘in future a masseur should accompany the team from England’
Cricket Sub-Committee, 25 May 1954, minute 6(b).
Joe Root had at his disposal an ‘operations manager’…
2018 Wisden, p.357.
‘greater depth to many relationships’
Arlott, in a Wisden Cricket Monthly retrospect on the tour.
Several other journalists, perhaps because of the access it allowed them to the team, were enthusiastic about the atmosphere on board. Bruce Harris, veteran of the Bodyline tour, thought it was the happiest he ever went on, as did Bailey. The general consensus was that the ‘camaraderie’ Tyson and many other players remembered being formed on deck proved invaluable when the going got tough at one-nil down.
Hutton himself, though, helping to plan the next tour captained by May, remembered ‘certain difficulties attendant upon travelling out by sea as the ships were very crowded and it was not always easy to keep track of members of the team’. This may be a reference to the old partners in crime, Edrich and Compton. Compare M.J.K. Smith’s view on travelling by ship: ‘The idea that it gave you a chance to get to know one another was always a farce. If anything, it gave you a chance to fall out with each other’ (quoted in Raman Subba Row, p.69).
‘A tour with Geoffrey as manager was certain to be enjoyable…’
Tyson, quoted in Chalke, Through the Remembered Gate, p.103.
Tyson went on the next MCC tour to Australia in 1958/59, which was far less happy for a variety of reasons, some of which were beyond management’s control. But his assessment of the tour manager, Brown, and his assistant, Desmond Eagar, rather undermines Swanton’s emphasis on the importance of a big-name leader: ‘Of the management of the 1958 trip, it would be kinder to say that it took two people all their time to do a job which Geoffrey Howard had done far better by himself during the previous visit to Australia’ (Typhoon Called Tyson, p.194).
‘there was a complete absence of managerial formality…’
Ross, Australia 55, p.235.
‘definite instructions about dress and the Press’
Harold Dalton’s tour diary (private collection).
oysters in Sydney and Davis Cup tickets in Melbourne
Tyson’s diary entry for Boxing Day 1954: ‘I don’t know how he did it, but our wonderful ‘Ger, Geoffrey Howard, got hold of a few tickers for the final Davis Cup Challenge Round [between Australia and USA] … To get tickets even for one day is like winning the lottery’ (In the Eye of the Typhoon, p.142).
Howard found Hutton as much of an ‘enigma’ as everybody else
Chalke, At the Heart of English Cricket, p.15-16. [He uses upper case for this word, which I have silently lowered.]
‘George was not to be confined by labels’ … ‘guide, philosopher and friend…’
Swanton in Australia, p.64, where he also describes Duckworth as a ‘valuable bridge between the players and the press’.
‘in the depths of gloom on a showboat’ on the Brisbane River
Hutton, Observer, 9 January 1966, p.19.
‘the scorer sees more than anyone’
Hutton, Fifty Years, p.180.
He may have been one of several influences behind the key adjustment of the tour…
Tyson talks about this decision himself in his diary entry for 12 December 1954 (In the Eye of the Typhoon, p.117) without mentioning any outside influences. He later credited Alf Gover, who had recently coached him and was following the tour as a journalist, as the prime mover (Len Hutton Remembered, p.112). In the same book, Appleyard opined that Hutton ‘as much as anybody’ helped sort Tyson out (p.152).
Interestingly, Ross noted in the second Test that Tyson was ‘using a run now little longer than Tate’s’ (Australia 55, p.144).
he pointed out the unusual number of no-balls Bedser was bowling
Hutton, Fifty Years, p.78.
‘friend and counsellor’ … ‘I was very lucky to have George…’
Hutton, Observer, 9 January 1966, p.19.
Dalton’s ‘capable services’ should have been utilised…
Bailey, Playing to Win, p.195: ‘What soccer side ever goes away without a trainer?’
Dalton tending Bailey on the massage table ‘with reverence’
When Jack Bailey became an Essex regular in 1954 he had to ‘get used to the idea that Trevor would spend a fair bit of time on the massage table, with Harold “Woozer” Dalton tending him with reverence and the utmost assiduousness for what seemed like a private patient’s charter in a National Service dressing-room’ (Trevor Bailey, p.97).
agreed with Howard that the masseur was just a ‘pseudo-medic’ …
Chalke, At the Heart of English Cricket.
Bob Appleyard thought all he seemed to do was hand out salt tablets (No Coward Soul). Graveney made fun of his penchant for pain-killing injections. Nor did Dalton have any formal background in athletic training. Laker pointedly observed that David Montague, whom MCC took to Australia in 1958/59, was ‘the first fully qualified physiotherapist to go on a tour’.
On the other hand, Arlott thought Dalton ‘an efficient and restful masseur who was to play a most important part in the outcome of the tour’.
‘As the tour of Australia progressed, Dalton became as valuable to me…’
Hutton, Just My Story, p.75.
a ‘boost’ of ‘two raw eggs, beaten up in milk or orange juice…’
Tyson, In the Eye of the Typhoon, p.107.
traditional for masseurs in Yorkshire, was to serve as Hutton’s ‘timekeeper’
In Fred Trueman Talks Cricket (p.140), the Yorkshire masseur Bright Heyhirst is described as the team’s unofficial ‘timekeeper’.
Tyson ‘bowled like a clot’ the next day
Dalton’s Tour Diary.
Hutton ‘left it’ to him ‘to get him right’
Dalton’s Tour Diary.
‘some of us could even claim to be trained journalists’
Wellings, The Ashes Retained, p.14.
‘as close to him on that tour as anyone’
Woodcock, in a short retrospect of the tour, originally published in the January 2005 edition of The Cricketer.
But Hutton also shrewdly tickled the egos of Peebles … and Brown
Peebles, Ashes: ‘Len Hutton, having no recognised leg-spinners, had kindly asked Freddie Brown and myself to bowl at the nets, which we were both delighted to do…Whether my stately rollers did anyone any good except myself is very doubtful, but the spirit of the thing gave me the greatest joy.’
Hutton’s invitation to the nets of a more occasional leg-spinner, Swanton…
Chalke, At the Heart of English Cricket, p.20.
Hutton-fan Michael Rines recalled ‘the fun Hutton had with ‘Jim’ once in a friendly game, obliging the portly and perspiring doyen of cricket writers to puff and pant his way to the boundary’ by hitting balls deliberately for three (Len Hutton Remembered, p.23).
‘developed the art’ … however ‘Delphic’
Swanton in Australia, p.64.
‘a liaison man’ … ‘knew where to come’
Kilburn, interviewed in Len Hutton Remembered, pp.124-25.
Hutton felt he had been ‘let down’ by several journalists…
Captain’s Report, as reproduced in The Cricketer, May 1996, p.29: ‘It would simplify matters from the cricketers’ point of view if the press and players would travel and live separately.’
‘if you give them something they’ll forget…’
Kilburn, interviewed in Len Hutton Remembered, p.125.
Hutton set the tone in his opening press conference at Fremantle…
Cowdrey’s account in MCC of Hutton’s ‘shrewd, pointed and dryly witty’ performance is often quoted: “Not, we ’aven’t got mooch boolin’. Got a chap called Tyson but you won’t ’ave ’eard of him because he’s ’ardly ever played” (pp.60-61).
Ross thought Hutton handled this ‘awkward Press Conference’ with charm and skill: ‘He has, I think, surprised many by his mellow geniality, his certainty of manner’ (Australia 55, p.30).
May remembered asking Hutton how he had got everybody smiling at an important press conference: ‘I just baffled ’em’ (Len Hutton Remembered, p.91)
There were of course fewer ‘incidents’ to generate headlines in Australia…
Bradman had predicted, in private correspondence at the height of MCC’s difficulties in the West Indies, that ‘they will have much more pleasant time when they come to Australia this year’. He may have been mouthing the platitudes of a host but it was fairly obvious that the political and cultural tensions which beset the Caribbean tour would not be present in Australia – or at least not in any of the circles English players and journalists would be frequenting.
Hutton ‘was clearly anxious to please as well as to win’
Moyes, Fight for the Ashes, p.226.
Keith Andrew found him the ‘most remote of men’
In a short Wisden Cricket Monthly article on the tour entitled ‘My Baptism of Fire’.
To Reg Simpson … he was a ‘miserable bloody Yorkshireman’
Chalke, At the Heart of English Cricket, p.23.
Peter Loader remembered having one conversation…
Len Hutton Remembered, p.116.
Graveney thought his captain let him ‘go’ after what Woodcock described as a ‘Weston-super-Mare’ drive got him out cheaply in the second Test (Tom Graveney on Cricket, p.103).
‘the boogers have done us again’
Another famous phrase where are there are various versions.
May ‘came back a 25 per cent better player’ from the Caribbean…
Hutton, Just My Story, p.97.
‘the easiest way to get a thing through…’
Swanton, Last Over, p.239: ‘It was sometimes whispered that the easiest way to get a thing through was to persuade the eminence grise that it had been his own idea.’
Cowdrey … always remembered his captain’s ‘kindness and consideration’
Cowdrey gave an interesting interview for Len Hutton Remembered, where he explained he had to get through Hutton’s ‘defence mechnisms’, designed to ensure a person was not out to ‘knock’ him: ‘Once I’d got past that, and I got past that pretty early, he took enormous pains to help me in all my cricket…He was a tremendous friend to me, full of wit and wisdom’ (p.85).
Tyson felt a shared ‘Northern temperament’ … Hutton’s ‘superb psychology’
In the Eye of the Typhoon, p.148.
Hutton returned the compliment: ‘Frank and I had an excellent rapport, and the natural understanding of fellow northerners counted for much’ (Fifty Years, p.119).
‘Len called for champagne all round’
Tyson, interviewed by Ken Piesse in 2013 for The Cricket Monthly.
Bailey, incredibly, had won a prize of $100 for hitting the first six…
Trevor Bailey’s Book, p.118.
Benaud thought he acted as the ‘perfect foil’ to Tyson and Statham
Tale of Two Tests, p.100
Bailey’s ‘psychological effect’ upon the opposition and the crowd
Ross, Australia 55, p.169: ‘Bailey’s batting in Test cricket is limited to three strokes, the forward defensive, the late cut and the swing to leg, with the ratio in favour of the first about a hundred to one. But he is firm in intent, unruffled by comment, and admirably devoted to the needs of his side’.
All generals need to be lucky and Hutton had his fair quota in 1954/55
Here is my little list, in no particular order:
- Miller and Lindwall had roused themselves for one last great effort against the old enemy, but both missed one of the crucial Tests because of injury.
- Although Tyson may have prevailed in any case off his shortened run, the catalyst for his match-winning spells was his being knocked out cold by Lindwall at Sydney. It turned out to be a piece of luck, once Tyson came round, that Lindwall broke the prevailing fast bowlers’ convention, in retaliation for a couple of bouncers that Tyson had previously slipped him.
- The crucial tail-end resistance led by Wardle (his partnership with Statham in Sydney worth more than the eventual margin of victory) required a high dosage of good fortune.
- The celebrated incident in which the Melbourne wicket was illegally watered on the rest day actually helped England, who could complete their second innings before the cracks reopened.
- In hindsight, Morris and even Harvey proved too battle-scarred for the challenge of Tyson and Statham over a five-Test series, and the rest of the Australian batting was not battle-hardened enough.
Henry Sayen … reportedly danced a victory jig with Ronnie Aird
Tyson, In the Eye of the Typhoon, p.136.
‘a fairly mild-tempered man’ to lead Australia’s upcoming tour
Arlott, Australian Tour Diary, p.19.
‘if one man is to take credit for the win, it must be Hutton’
Arlott, Australian Tour Diary, p.160.
Ross, Australia 55, p.51.
Ross, p.178: ‘Hutton captained England with a mastery that defied, as well as exceeded, logic’.
Vic Wilson, Hutton’s Yorkshire teammate and the go-to substitute fielder on tour thought he was ‘a great tactician and a very shrewd man’ (Len Hutton Remembered, p.142).
‘By contrast with F.R. Brown’s “ruddy dynamism”…’
Ray Robinson, ‘An Australian Post Mortem’, Observer, 6 February, 1955, p.12: ‘Outstanding in his captaincy has been the way he has kept his gaze on the main chance – a break through by his fast bowlers.’
Even Swanton … praised his ‘wise generalship’
Swanton in Australia, p.70.
products of Cambridge and Oxford
Ross on the two amateur batsmen: ‘There was little to choose between them in the correctness of their technique, the natural assertion of their breeding’ (p.139).
Hutton must have appreciated the tribute May and Cowdrey later paid him…
Graveney believed the outlook of May and Cowdrey was ‘fashioned’ by their admiration of Hutton (Tom Graveney on Cricket, p.107).
Simon Wilde collects a couple of similar observations: Alan Gibson thought May ‘crammed himself into the mould of Hutton’ and Jim Laker thought May was a ‘fervent admirer of Hutton and he tried to captain England in a similar style to Leonard’ (England, p.257-58).
‘we won without leaving a smell’
Interview with Trelford: see A Tribute to Len Hutton, about 55 minutes in (compare Len Hutton Remembered, p.38).
Swanton conceded this, even when he noted the ‘paradox’ that the teams had been evenly matched according to runs-per-wicket averages: ‘Len Hutton’s team scored fewer runs than any of their ten predecessors in half a century: but they finished with a better record than any side since 1932/3 when victory was won only at the expense of a quarrel, the scars of which are scarcely healed yet’ (Swanton in Australia, p.75)
Aird … had complimented the captain on a ‘very fine job’
[I have mislaid this reference.]
MCC must also have been consulted about the knighthood…
Although Hutton thought the Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden was the prime mover: ‘It has always been understood that the recommendation came from Downing Street and not Lord’s’ (Fifty Years, p.140).
Warner concentrated on the young amateurs…
When news came through that MCC had beaten South Australia, Warner wrote a letter to Aird, on 24 January 1955: ‘May apart from his splendid batting, has been a very successful Vice Captain, hasn’t he? He seems to win his matches.’ Perhaps any letters he wrote when Bailey was winning matches in the West Indies are no longer preserved in the archive.
I also detect a little barb in an essay Warner wrote for the 1955 Wisden, giving yet another retrospect of his years in cricket. Warner was still arguing that ‘the game is enriched by the amateur’ and lamenting the demise of classical batsmanship, excepting ‘Compton, May, Graveney, Cowdrey, Hutton, at his best’. Hutton, unlike Compton and Graveney, was admitted to the amateur pantheon only with qualification.
in private he was still grumbling spitefully about Hutton
The most egregious letters to Robert Menzies were quoted in Chapter 6, where Warner asserted that Hutton had ‘no cricket sense’ and was ‘no leader’.
The MCC Cricket Sub-Committee mildly censured the captain…
MCC Cricket Sub-Committee, 2 March 1955, minute 4.
‘Mr Allen reported on the tendency of the game…’ … ‘not only deprived…’
MCC Cricket Sub-Committee, 2 March 1955, minute 6.
Allen also appears to have put pressure on the next (amateur) captain regarding the subject of over-rates: see May, A Game Enjoyed, p.83.
‘By the end … Hutton was mentally spent and inwardly satisfied…’
Woodcock, in Martin-Jenkins, Spirit of Cricket, p.157.
the pressures of the West Indies tour had taken two years off his career
Fifty Years, p.93: ‘The West Indies tour of 1954 left me mentally and physically drained, and I am in no doubt that my playing career was foreshortened maybe by two years as a result.’
Hutton had also told the Yorkshire Post (8 October 1954) that the Coronation Ashes had ‘taken four months’ out of him.
‘I’m surprised that he only said two’
Miller, Charles Palmer, p.98; the same quotation appears in a Wisden Cricket Monthly article on the tour by Stephen Chalke.
‘he missed some of the down-right joy of cricket…’
Kilburn’s 1956 retirement tribute, originally written for The Cricketer.
In his, Cardus makes the same kind of point (p.94): ‘Hutton’s cricket has been as true as McLaren’s to the Zeitgeist, to the feeling, temper and even to the economy of the age which shaped his character and skill, both conceived as much in integrity as joy.’
‘A nice smile came across his fine face’ … ‘faraway look’
Hutton, Fifty Years, p.91.
I may be taking a liberty in assuming Hutton brought the ball back having been given it on the 1954/55 tour not the 1950/51 tour, and am definitely taking another in that the faraway look came in a different conversation with Rhodes, about the home victory in 1926. But it’s a moment when I hope liberties are allowed.
‘It’s all right this Sir Leonard business, but it’s another ten shillings on the bill’
A remark recalled by Kilburn in Len Hutton Remembered, p.127.