Atherton the motivator

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Michael Atherton took Phil Tufnell aside for a quiet chat before yesterday's one-day international. It worked wonders, Tufnell's 4 for 22 was the perfect response to the dope-smoking allegations of two days ago, setting England up for victory.

"I had a quiet chat with Phil before the game and told him to be strong," Atherton said. "He did very well and I thought he coped excellently with the occasion. The crowd were always going to give him a bit of flak but at the end I think they appreciated a very good bowling spell. I'm sure that's why Phil doffed his cap."

Atherton confirmed that Tufnell would not have been included normally, but that the condition of the pitch used for the Test dictated the choice of both spinners.

Tufnell said: "It was decided to play me when we had a look at the wicket, and it was nice to play in a one-day international after a couple of years' gap.

"There was a good crowd and I gave them a little wave. There was some rough to exploit and I think that was always on the batsman's minds. Then, when we batted, a great partnership between Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe made sure of the game."

Atherton was understandably pleased with his side's performance in general: "We had a little bit of a wobble at the end, but it's a good start to the series.

"It was also a fun day for the spectators, a big crowd, making a lot of noise. What with all the music, too, it was certainly a very good atmosphere."

Cricket was the new rock 'n' roll during the match, as music blared from loudspeakers all around the ground to greet the arrival of each batsman, and Robert Croft was clearly inspired by his choice of Tom Jones singing "Delilah", cover-driving his first two deliveries for four to secure victory with seven balls to spare.

"It was absolutely superb. It got the players and the spectators going," Croft said. "The song certainly inspired me."

Graham Thorpe's fine innings of 82 also played a major part as he teamed up with Surrey colleague Alec Stewart for a partnership worth 170.

"There was a lot of work to be done when I came to the crease," Thorpe said. "But we both struck the ball well and that took a lot of the pressure off.

"Unfortunately we did not quite see it through which put a bit of pressure on the boys, but we got home. I'm pleased because this is my first time playing under lights.

"We are looking to win all five of these one-day games and play some positive cricket doing so. We aim to learn a lot from them."