- Born 17 October 1978 Belfast
- Educated Bangor Grammar School; University of Ulster
- Occupation Schoolteacher
- Debut 20 June 2005 v MCC at Upritchard Park, Bangor
- Cap Number 649
- Style Right hand batsman; slow right arm leg breaks and off spin
- Teams Bangor
Mark Hutchinson, who was a highly promising all-rounder while at Bangor Grammar School in the 1990s, became one of the most consistent and reliable batsmen in the NCU area in the first decade of the new century. Right handed, and generally opening the batting or at No 3, hit seven centuries for Bangor in top flight senior cricket between 2003 and 2011, including one in the Irish Senior Cup, but his bowling, predominantly leg spin but occasionally off breaks, was to become largely unused. For Bangor Grammar School in the three seasons from 1995 he scored 699 runs at an average of 18.39, with a highest score of 76* in the first year, and took 87 wickets at 15.36. In his last season in the XI, he headed the bowling averages with 41 wickets at 10.87, including his best bowling figures of 6-9. The School XI, under the eagle eyed tutelage of former Irish international Chris Harte, was a strong one winning 43 and losing only 12 of 67 matches, during this period, even venturing as far as Sydney in search of opposition. In company with several of his team-mates Mark gained representative honours playing both for Ulster Schools and Ireland U19.
His best performance for the Schools XI, of which details have been seen, came in England in 1996 when Ulster took part in the Northern Counties School Festival. Mark topscored in the match against Cheshire which Ulster were unlucky not to win. Batting first they reached 204-9 before declaring, with Mark making 61 and Andrew Cousins of Waringstown 51. Cheshire struggled to 174-8 with another BGS student Jonathan Harte, son of Chris, taking 5-24. Mark and Cousins were both in the Ireland U19 team which finished second in the International Youth tournament in Canada in July 1997, thus qualifying for the U19 World Cup the following January.
Mark reserved his best performance for the only match Ireland lost against an England U17 XI including 3 future Test players and one future Test umpire. Ireland batted first and were dismissed for 170, with Cousins (28) and Mark (27) the leading scorers. The only other batsman to impress was Ed Joyce with 22. Mark's innings was ended by a stumping off Michael Gough, a 6 foot 5 opening bat and off spinner, who was to finish playing first class cricket in favour of umpiring in which he has made a notable career. The England captain in the tournament was Robert Key who made 25 in this match.
While at the University of Ulster, Mark played for the Irish Universities in the British Universities Tournament in both 1999 and 2000.
He was seen to best advantage in the latter year, when the competition was held in Dublin. The weather was magnificent and Ireland not only emerged victorious, but also had, in Dom Joyce, the Man of the Tournament. Mark showed his worth as an all-rounder contributing well in two of the three matches. Against Wales, in wilting heat at College Park, he bowled tightly to have the best bowling figures of 3-22 as Ireland, having been put in a strong position by a Dom Joyce century, won by 143 runs. England at Castle Avenue provided sterner opposition, but Ireland batted consistently, Mark making 33 from 30 balls with 3 fours, one of several batsmen to lend good support to Joyce (51) as Ireland posted 261-7, enough to squeeze home by 6 runs. He also made 15 and took 2 wickets in 3 wickets in the win over Scotland to secure the trophy.
The previous season had seen him play a vital role in his University carrying off the Irish Universities' Championship in Dublin in mid-June. In the semi-final against Dublin University he took 3-24 to lead the way to a victory by 74 runs, despite the fact that he and his team-mates had struggled against the medium pace of Ed Joyce, and then quite highly thought off as a bowler, who took, 6-40. In the final Ulster overcame University College, Dublin by 30 runs, Mark's 30, helping them post 186, which proved to be enough.
He was to prove, as has already been mentioned, a model of consistency for Bangor. The highest of his 7 centuries 116 v Carrickfergus at Middle Road came in 2011, Bangor's last season, at the time of writing, in Premier League cricket. Batting first, Bangor made a poor start being 13-1 when Mark came in. He proceeded to dominate a strong attack, finally being dismissed with the score at 200. However Bangor's eventual 228-7 was not enough to stop a home win by 8 wickets.
He was also involved in some big partnerships on his route to three figure scores. Thus against Woodvale in 2003 he and Johnny Hewitt (123) put on 120 for the 3rd wicket as Bangor made 304-7, Mark finishing undefeated on 110. Despite a superb hundred from Stephen Warke, Woodvale were never in the hunt, being dismissed for 189. Another big stand came against Instonians at Upritchard Park in 2007 with the Sri Lankan professional Yeses Tillakaratne. Bangor posted 248-4, the 3rd wicket pairing realising 171, Mark again being undefeated on 106.
In the NCU Challenge Cup, he made a fine 103 in 4 wicket win over Saintfield in 2010, but also found himself often batting well in matches which Bangor lost. On no less than four occasions, he passed the half century mark, only to find that this was ultimately to no avail. Against Civil Service North in the second round in 2010, this must have been particularly frustrating., as the match finished with the scores level on 232, but Bangor were defeated having lost more wickets. Mark made a stylish and dominating 77 which gained him the Man of the Match award.
The 2009 season which Mark began as captain of Bangor, had ended with the club being relegated. They were able to return to the Premier League at the end of 2011, partly because of Mark's batting. In the last match of the summer he hit a fine 114 against Cliftonville, having already twice been dismissed in the 90s, most annoyingly for 99 against Dundrum, besides passing 50 on three other occasions.
Ironically his three best innings in the Irish Senior Cup were also all played in a losing cause. In 2004 he hit a brilliant 96 against Clontarf at Castle Avenue at No 3, but, in a rain affected match, this left Bangor just 3 short of their revised target, despite the fact that he and Chris Yeates (98*) had dominated the hosts attack, and that their run chase was well on course when the rain came again. At Limavady in 2005, he made 102 as Bangor perused a total of 348-2. They reached a respectable 265-8, still well short of what was required. Two years later the same opponents won by 9 wickets at Upritchard Park, though Marks 76 has enabled Bangor to reach 216. A swashbuckling innings by Dekker Curry ended any hopes of a Bangor victory.
Interprovincial cricket was about to go into temporary abeyance when Mark was selected for the NCU XI. His best form in the competition was seen in 2004. Against the North West at Wallace Park, NCU restricted their visitors to 196-9 and then lost 2 wickets for 60 before Mark joined Andrew White. He played a somewhat secondary role in a match winning unbroken stand of 140, finishing on 52 from 82 balls with 4 fours, White, in superb form, was on 123 from 128 balls with 17 fours and 1 six. Later in the season Mark was again to the fore as NCU just got home against the South of Ireland XI at Park Avenue. The South made 218 for 9 but their visitors managed a 1 wicket victory. Mark, run out for 36, was joint top scorer with South African Bryan Baguley.
His one appearance for Ireland came, appropriately at Upritchard Park, against MCC in June 2005. He came into the side as a late replacement for Jason Molins, who was back in the team for the second of these matches the following day. Batting unaccustomedly low at No 6, Mark came in at 271-4 to support Peter Gillespie who was storming his way to what was then Ireland's fastest ever hundred. Mark was 7* when the innings ended on 351-4 with the Strabane man on 102*.
Mark Kenneth Hutchinson continued to score consistently for Bangor in senior cricket, but was not asked to play for Ireland again. Competition for places was certainly fierce, but the impression remains that he was as least as good a player as some who did receive an invitation "to answer Ireland's call."