England’s series of Ashes matches with Australia were at the centre of the country’s sporting attention in post-war Britain. At the heart of England’s team, and that of Yorkshire, was opening batsman Len Hutton. The statistics of Hutton’s career are formidable. He played 79 Test matches over nearly two decades scoring 6,971 runs at an average of 56.67 – many against Australia with their top-class bowling attack of Lindwall and Miller. Leonard Hutton’s place in the pantheon of the gods of English cricket is assured.
He made his Test debut in 1937. Then, in 1938, came one of cricket’s legendary innings. Len Hutton scored 364 runs at The Oval against Australia in an innings built on sustained concentration and skill during more than 13 hours of play. In 1952 he was appointed captain of England – the first-ever ‘professional’ to be appointed. The firmly-established custom had been that a captain should come from the ‘amateur’ tradition. Hutton’s career would prove an important stepping-stone towards the abolition of the game’s distinction between ‘gentlemen’ and ‘players’ in 1962. Hutton was knighted in 1956, joining Jack Hobbs as a cricketing Sir.
The chosen memorial for one of Yorkshire’s finest was, in the cricketing tradition, newly designed gates - the Sir Leonard Hutton Gates - dedicated at the main entrance to Headingley. Hutton is placed at the centre playing a fierce and stylish drive over mid-wicket. To the right is a re-enactment of the scoreboard when he reached his historic 364 at The Oval against Australia in 1938. To the left is a scene from Headingley earlier in the summer of 1990 when England played Pakistan and includes a number of Asian women in the stand wearing saris. The designer, Kate Maddison, said: “I felt it was important the design for the gates showed an unbroken link between the historic and the contemporary game.”