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Yorkshire's Master Batsmen

Yorkshire’s batting records are dominated by an outstanding trio. Each of them scored at least 85 centuries (no one else managed more than 62) and of the 39 who have scored at least 10,000 runs they are the only ones to average over 50 (no one else passes 44). All three were opening batsmen of the highest calibre.

  • Herbert Sutcliffe (pictured) made his debut in 1919 and scored five centuries in his first season. Three years later he scored the first of his record 16 double-centuries and passed 2000 runs for the first of a record six seasons. His batting was based on an impeccable technique and a completely unflappable temperament. He was a very free-scoring player but could be obdurate when the situation required and his well-honed defence saw him successfully negotiate many a passage of play on wet wickets.

    In 1932 Sutcliffe set the record of most runs in a season with 2883 (av 80.08). This was the year when he scored his only triple-century; his 313 runs contributed to the then world-record partnership – for any wicket – of 555. It was against Essex at Leyton and Sutcliffe’s partner was Percy Holmes. They had started their affiliation in Sutcliffe’s first season and are the most prolific pair of batsmen in the history of cricket. Their 69 opening stands are precisely 40 more than their nearest rivals and their understanding went way beyond the ‘sixth sense’. (Holmes was a brilliant batsman in his own right, scoring over 26.000 runs).

  • Sutcliffe’s final full season was in 1939 and he scored his customary 1000 runs becoming the only batsman – from any county – to pass that total in each of the 21 seasons between the two World Wars. His final career run-aggregate totalled 38,558 (av 50.20) and this remains a record as does his 112 centuries.

  • Len (later Sir Leonard) Hutton (pictured) made his debut in 1934 and he was soon opening the batting with Sutcliffe who described him as ‘a marvel, the discovery of a generation’. The highlight of his first season was an innings of 196 at Worcester, its significance being that he became the county’s youngest century-maker.

    Hutton’s prolific and consistent scoring was based on an outstanding technique especially in defence. He was able to succeed on the most difficult pitches and he was able to play every stroke in the book to perfection. His cover-drive, with its beauty and grace, was regarded as one of the best-ever seen. All of this enabled him to reach an early peak in form but the promise of 12 centuries in 1939 remained unfulfilled for the next six seasons.

    The hostilities were not, in Hutton’s case, without consequence but he was hurt not in battle but in an army gymnasium. An operation following an accident left his right arm two inches shorter. The necessary adjustment to his technique was made without any apparent disadvantage and he continued to score heavily. His best season came in 1949 when, in June alone, he scored 1294 runs – in all first-class matches – and this remains the world record for any month.

  • Hutton was appointed England captain in 1952 but, despite his success, he found the post’s demands had a detrimental effect on his health and he resigned at the start of 1955. He played no more county games after the end of June and ended his career with 24,807 runs (av 53.34) and 85 centuries. He was President for a few months in 1990 but died in office and his life was celebrated at a moving memorial service in York Minster attended by 2000 of his devoted followers.

  • The honour of being Yorkshire’s highest scorer – in all forms of the game – goes to Geoffrey Boycott, the Club’s current President. A grand total of 41,051 runs was the fruits of his labours in a career which lasted from 1963 to 1986. He made an immediate impact in his first season with centuries in his first two Roses matches and one of his most famous innings came two years later when he scored a brilliantly attacking 146 in the Gillette Cup final at Lord’s against Surrey.

  • Geoffrey Boycott in action for Yorkshire

  • Boycott’s defensive technique approached perfection and he scored all round the wicket in his peak years in the late-1960s and early ‘70s, his favourite stroke being the square cut. An outstanding tour of Australia was following by his appointment, in 1971, as Yorkshire captain and he responded by becoming the first English player to average over 100 in a season.

    Despite losing the captaincy after eight seasons he responded by again averaging over 100. He continued to score heavily and his final first-class career average of 57.85 is the highest for all those with over 10,000 runs (Boycott scored 32,570) and his limited-overs total of 8481 has yet to be passed.

  • Yorkshire’s most significant batsman of the nineteenth century was George Ulyett. He was the first player to score over 10,000 runs for the county. Nicknamed ‘Happy Jack’, he approached his cricket with much enthusiasm and joviality.

    The county’s first great pair of opening batsmen was Jack Brown and John Tunnicliffe. Each scored over 15,000 runs and against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1898 set a world record of 554 for the highest stand for any wicket and this stood for 34 years.

    Another batsman to score over 30,000 runs, like Sutcliffe and Boycott, is David Denton. A stylish player, he made the number three spot his own in a long career which spanned the first two decades of the twentieth century.

    Morris (known as Maurice) Leyland was probably Yorkshire’s best left-handed batsman. Powerful and effective, his career took in most of the inter-War years and he scored over 26,000 runs in the middle order.

  • Master batsmen – David Denton (left) and John Tunnicliffe

  • The most successful batsman in the final part of the twentieth century was Martyn Moxon (pictured). An opening batsman with an excellent and stylish technique, he scored over 26,000 runs, including over 7000 in limited-overs matches.

    The left-handed Darren Lehmann, an Australian, lit up the middle order in the period 1997-2006 with his vast array of strokes. Despite playing in only seven seasons he scored over 14,000 runs. These included over 5000 in limited-overs matches the highlight of which was the highest innings in such games – a brilliant knock of 191 against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough in 2001. In first-class matches he averaged 68.76 – a record for anyone with over 500 runs.

    Eleven batsmen who have contributed greatly to Yorkshire’s success.

    NOTE: All career figures and records mentioned above apply to Yorkshire CCC only, unless specified.

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