"See him while you can," declared Picture Post 1946. "Your grandsons will feel you have let them down if you haven't seen Hammond on their behalf."
Between 1920 and 1951 he scored 50,493 runs, with 167 centuries and an average of 56.10; in Tests 7249 runs (22 centuries) at 58.45, as a bowler, 732 wickets (average 30.58); and he held 819 catches. Like Jack Hobbs, he might have achieved even more impressive figures if he had been able to play throughout his career. For instance, he first appeared for Gloucestershire (where he had been to school at Cirencester for five years) in 1920; but Lord Harris, piqued that he would not play for Kent, the county of his birth, quibbled about his qualification. So, effectively, he did not enter county cricket until 1923; he missed the entire season of 1926 through an illness contracted in the West Indies (he came back to start the next season by scoring 1000 in May); of course, he lost the 1940 to 1945 seasons when he was on a high plateau of achievement; and played only two first class matches after he returned from Australia in March 1947.
A natural player, he was virtually never coached until he had become a county player, when George Dennett used sometimes to advise him. Instinctively basically correct, he was sound in defence, but never defensively-minded. Like most outstanding batsmen, he was primarily a front-foot player who, with the years, operated more off the back.
His great power lay in his driving, which was pure textbook in style, clean, apparently effortless but, through the combination of innate timing and immense strength, often achieving immense velocity.
(To be continued)