Atkinson steals the spotlight with seven goals | Sport
4 mins read

Atkinson steals the spotlight with seven goals | Sport

LONDON (AP):

ENGLAND DEBUTANT Gus Atkinson stole the show on the first day of James Anderson’s farewell Test match, taking 7-45 at Lord’s to give the hosts a 68-point lead over the West Indies with seven wickets remaining.

Yesterday, as the host cricketers prepared to pay tribute to Anderson, who made his final appearance for his country after a record-breaking 22-year career, Surrey wicketkeeper Atkinson took centre stage instead, helping to beat the tourists to 121 in the first Test.

Anderson dismissed number 11 Jayden Seales to end the innings and give the crowd the crowd they came for.

England took complete control of the match in the first over, leading 189-3 with half-centuries scored by Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57).

But the biggest responsibility fell on Atkinson, who produced a career-best performance and became only the fifth player to take five on debut under captain Ben Stokes.

As a Test cricketer he had scored just two runs, added one more before conceding a single point, and then taken three wickets in four balls in the afternoon session.

Atkinson was on course for the highest figures by an England bowler on Test debut and was only stopped by a late delivery outside the box, which did not alter Dominic Cork’s 1995 figures of 7-43.

Anderson was outshone by the crowd at his own farewell event, but may have enjoyed a moment of nostalgia as he recalled his five-goal debut at the same ground in 2003.

RECORD-BREAKING WICKET COLLECTOR

The country’s record wicket-taker was everywhere at the start of the game – staring at the front of the match-day programme, featuring in a series of loving TV montages and being splashed in silhouette on a commemorative hoodie sold in the club shop. His daughters Ruby and Lola even had the honour of ringing the five-minute bell at the start of the day.

Stokes gave the fans what they wanted when he won the toss and opted to bowl first under overcast skies, but the only thing missing was a quick breakthrough from the exceptional player.

Anderson bowled neatly and struck the bat a few times in his five overs with the new ball, but it was when Atkinson took over that things started to happen. His second ball was little more than a loosener, but Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite swung his crooked bat outside the off-stump and dragged it onto his own stumps.

Atkinson scored a more classic goal, chipping the ball forward past Kirk McKenzie and allowing a thick edge to fly and slide.

The West Indies struggled to 61-3 at lunchtime, with Stokes making 27 off debutant opener Mikyle Louis thanks to a superb one-handed catch from Harry Brook.

Atkinson returned to wreak havoc after the break and scored three times in the ninth over as Alick Athanaze and Jason Holder were caught in the cordon.

Joshua Da Silva made three good saves but lost another to allow new England goalkeeper Jamie Smith to claim his first win and Atkinson was awarded a place on the honours table.

Pope’s brilliant response brought victory to Kavem Hodge, taking the score from 88-3 to 88-7 in the space of eight balls.

Atkinson scored two more points, Alzarri Joseph and Shamar Joseph tried unsuccessfully to get out of trouble before Anderson finished the move by keeping Seales in his tracks.

Seales fired back when Ben Duckett was caught behind the three-point line, but England confirmed their superiority with a 94-run stand between Crawley and Pope.

Both men survived Holder’s LBW appeals and managed to reach 50, scoring 19 runs in total.

Holder finally made a decision he liked when he pinned Pope in front of leg stump, and Seales bowled Crawley as he started to progress towards a hundred, leaving Joe Root (15 not out) and Brook (25 not out) in the bag at the end.