Saturday, July 13, 2024

Atkinson upstages Anderson farewell with seven on debut |

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Gus Atkinson took 7-45 as England established a strong lead on day one of the first Test against the West Indies

The stage was set for James Anderson, but the scene was stolen by Gus Atkinson. 

Anderson, making his 188th and final Test appearance, received a huge ovation from a packed Lord’s, then opened the bowling against a green West Indies batting line-up put in to bat under overcast skies in the series opener.

But the veteran, needing nine wickets to surpass Shane Warne on the all-time Test list, went wicketless in his opening five-over spell, then saw the rookie, who replaced him at the Pavilion End, take a wicket with his second ball in Test cricket.

Atkinson went on to take 7-45 as West Indies were bowled out for 121. England reached 3-189 at the close, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope making half-centuries as they established a first-day lead of 68.

When the West Indies were nine down, with Atkinson bowling, the seamer was one wicket from securing the best figures by any Test debutant. But a couple of boundaries meant Albert Trott’s 8-43 for Australia against England in Adelaide in 1895 remains supreme. So does Dominic Cork’s England-best 7-43 against the West Indies at Lord’s a century later.

Instead it was Anderson who claimed the last wicket, that of Jayden Seales, to the biggest cheer of the day. That took Anderson, who will be 42 later this month, to 701 wickets in his 22-year Test career, a tally eclipsed only by only Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.

“I was a bit nervous this morning, I woke up and all I could think about was the day ahead. I was emotional,” said Atkinson.

“I tried to keep as level as possible but my Dad (Ed) was saying ‘this is the biggest day of your life’. I just said ‘relax, I’m trying not to think like that!’.

“He’s a big cricket fan, so to make him proud and make my family proud is very special. Walking through the Long Room at the end and seeing him there was pretty cool. If you could ask me what I want in a day, that would be pretty close to the top.”

The Anderson family were present too. Before play the five-minute bell on the balcony of the pavilion was rung by his daughters Ruby and Lola with his parents and wife alongside.

West Indies, however, refused to play along and had reached 0-34 without alarm when Anderson left the attack. But they were soon 3-43 with Atkinson taking two and top scorer Mikyle Louis (27) dismissed by skipper Ben Stokes.

Alick Athanaze (23) and Kavem Hodge (24) added 40 but when Atkinson parted them the tourists collapsed, losing 7-33 with Atkinson taking three wickets in four balls at one point. England were aided by superb catching, notably by Harry Brook and Pope.

The tourists, who had only one warm-up match, fielded less well, Crawley escaping a run out before he had scored and Ben Duckett dropped on one. The latter perished soon after but Crawley took advantage, making 76. Pope also scored 57 as England built the platform for a commanding first-innings lead.

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