When Harry Brook made his maiden first-class century against Essex at Chelmsford in May he became one of the youngest to do so for Yorkshire. Paul Dyson looks at other batsmen who have also achieved the feat while still in their teens. The photo of Bill Athery comes courtesy of Mick Pope.
Much was made of Harry Brook scoring his first red-ball century in the early part of the 2018 season. Several sources showed that he became Yorkshire’s fourth-youngest centurion and named the three younger ones. Here are the full details of those four plus the one other batsman to achieve the feat prior to him reaching the age of 20.
|Name||Age (years/days)||Year||First-Class match||Score||Opponents||Venue||Result|
|L Hutton||18, 33||1934||14th||196||Worcestershire||Worcester||Won|
|Azeem Rafiq||18, 112||2009||7th||100||Worcestershire||Worcester||Drawn|
|CWJ Athey||18, 282||1976||6th||131*||Sussex||Headingley||Drawn|
|HC Brook||19, 72||2018||8th||124||Essex||Chelmsford||Won|
|AU Rashid||19 181||2007||20th||108||Worcestershire||Kidderminster||Lost|
It may be that those who know their Yorkshire history will be surprised at the omission of Brian Close from the above list. He made his debut for Yorkshire in 1949 when aged only 18-75 but did not score a first-class century until he was 19-239 and that was for MCC in Australia in 1950. His first 100 for Yorkshire did not come until he was over 25 years old!
Three of the five in the above list are, of course, current players and much is known about Len Hutton. However the name of Bill Athey may not be so familiar, particularly to the younger reader.
Athey was born in Middlesbrough in 1957 and duly showed a great deal of promise at Acklam Hall High School as well as with Middlesbrough, Saltburn and Bowling Old Lane. He first played for Yorkshire in 1976 and his classic technique made him an ideal batsman to play in the top three in the order. He gained a rgular place in the county side in 1978 and two years later scored 1,000 first-class runs in a season for the first time, him being awarded his county cap. His Test debut also came in 1980, his first game at that level being the Centenary Test at Lord’s, no less, he was one of four Yorkshire players to be involved in this special occasion.
Unfortunately, Athey’s Yorkshire career co-incided with probably the unhappiest few years in the county’s history and, by the end of 1983, he had had enough of the in-fighting. He had played under four different captains in eight seasons and so moved to Gloucestershire. His Test career, by this time, had consisted of only three games and he had scored only 17 runs in his six innings so probably felt that a fresh start would benefit him from that standpoint as well. His Yorkshire career had concluded with him having scored over 6,000 first-class runs, including ten centuries, to add to over 3,000 runs in List A games.
Athey returned to the Test arena in 1986 and played a vital part in the retention of the Ashes in the following winter. He opened the batting in all five Tests as well as the 14 ODIs which took place in two different tournaments. England won both of these to make the experience one of the best tours of Australia since the Second World War.