“If one last fragment of cricket had to be preserved, as though in amber, it should be a glimpse of K L Hutchings cover-driving under a summer heaven.” Cricket writer A A Thompson’s verdict was typical of the praise lavished on Ken Hutchings, possibly the most talented batsmen in English cricket before the war.
‘A bat full of runs’
His “amazing brilliancy” and “bat full of runs” were to help Kent to two county championships and see him picked seven times for England. Fourth son of a doctor, born in 1882 in Southborough, Kent, Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings was a hard-hitting, fast-scoring yet graceful batsman in the mould of today’s players, with a “style all of his own”.
Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings (Getty Images)
In 1906 his batting average was 60.58 and in 1907 he was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year. Hutchings toured Australia with England in 1907-08 and played for his country again when Australia visited England on the Ashes tour of 1909.
He retired in 1912 with 214 first class games, 23 centuries and 57 fifties to his name and went into the paper manufacturing business in Liverpool.
“He was magnificent. His dash, his vigour, his quick eye, his indifference to care... made him unlike any other cricketer; not in this generation have we seen his equal.”Hutchings’s Daily Telegraph obituary
Hutchings joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment within days of the start of the war and arrived in France in April 1915, attached the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
For the Somme offensive the 33-year-old returned to his battalion, the 12th King’s, and was killed instantly by a shell or machine-gun fire as he led an attack at Ginchy on September 3, 1916.
A fellow officer wrote: “I had a great admiration for him. Out here you get to know a man very intimately, and everyone thought what a fine fellow he was."
'He was all that was best'
Hutchings’s Daily Telegraph obituary said: “By his death...one of the greatest cricketers has been taken from us. A typical man of Kent, in that his cricket was splendidly characteristic of his county – bright, free, sparkling – Hutchings at his best was the most engaging batsman of his day... He brought out all that was best in a glorious game. On any wicket, against any bowling – circumstances did not matter – he was magnificent. His dash, his vigour, his quick eye, his indifference to care... made him unlike any other cricketer; not in this generation have we seen his equal.”
Hutchings’s three brothers, two of whom also played for Kent, survived the war but were all injured in accidents or wounded in action. His body was never found and his name is on the memorial at Thiepval. Six days later, the conflict at Ginchy would also claim the life of Olympic sharpshooter Captain Robert Davies.
Mike Gatting Remembers Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings
Remember the Somme
This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The Royal British Legion is calling on communities across the UK to take the time out from their daily lives to honour those who fell. We have created a Somme 100 toolkit which contains everything you need to organise a Remembrance event in your community.
Make your own commemoration to one of the casualties of the First World War by simply placing a virtual poppy in their memory on our Every Man Remembered website.