CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1907

Kenneth Hutchings

KENNETH LOTHERINGTON HUTCHINGS was born at South-borough near Tunbridge Wells, on the 7th of December, 1882 being the youngest of four brothers, all of whom gained their colors at Tonbridge School. He was in the eleven for five years-1898 to 1902 inclusive-and captain for the last two. For three years in succession he was at the top of he batting, his average in 1902 being 63. In that year, his last at Tonbridge, he played an innings of 205, a record score for the school. These facts have a peculiar interest in the light of the wonderful success that the young batsman met with last season. They show that, given the opportunity, he might have won a high position some time ago. As it was, his batting came to the general public as nothing less than a revelation. Hayward was the greatest batsman of 1906, but Hutchings furnished the sensation of the year. Never has a big reputation been more quickly won. Hutchings had only been seen twice in the Kent eleven in 1905, and so much cricket is played now-a-days that his fine batting for the county two years before was almost forgotten. In 1903, however, he had given clear proof of his ability, playing an innings of 106 against Somerset at Taunton, and scoring, in eleven matches, 404 runs, with an average of 28. I have been told that one famous cricketer, who saw him that year, was so struck by his form as to say in positive terms that if he could play regularly he would be the best bat in England. The triumphs of last season, therefore, did not come altogether as a surprise to those behind the scenes. Still no one could have been prepared for such overwhelming success. Hutchings took his place in the Kent eleven at Tonbridge in June, and few weeks later he was picked, strictly on his merits, for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's. It was not his good fortune to come off against the Players, but on few other occasions did he know what it was to fail. Indeed the consistency of his batting was not less astonishing than its brilliancy. Altogether in first-class matches he scored 1,597 runs in 34 innings, with an average of 53. All grounds came alike to him, and he kept up his form to the last, hitting with undiminished power in September at the Scarborough Festival, and for Kent against the Rest of England at the Oval. Batting so remarkable and individual as his, has not been seen since Ranjitsinhji and Trumper first delighted the cricket world. Not in the slightest degree resembling either of these famous players, Hutchings has a style that is entirely his own. Like most of the best modern batsmen he relies for his defence upon his back play, and when he goes forward it is nearly always with the idea of scoring. He can hit all round the wicket, but the strength of his game lies in his tremendous driving. Perhaps only those who last season stood at mid-off or mid-on to him could fully appreciate the pace at which the ball came off his bat. George Hirst, than whom there is no pluckier mid-off, went back two or three yards for him in the Kent v. Yorkshire match at Sheffield, and thought he was quite justified in so doing. One point Hutchings has in common with Trumper. Like the Australian he tries to score from so many balls, that in order to do himself justice, he must be in the pink of health and condition. If not quite up to the mark physically he might at any time suffer a serious loss of form. He suggests to a far greater extent than Trumper muscular power, his forearms being immensely strong. As the result of one season's work he is at the top of the tree, and if he can keep up his form he is bound to play for England when the Australians pay us their next visit. Apart from his batting he is a splendid and untiring outfield, and quite a respectable change bowler.<.

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