Captain in control

Click to follow
The Independent Online
BY DEREK HODGSON

When Mike Atherton has become Sir Michael, dividing his time between chairing the England selectors and Manchester United he may think back, over a glass of his favourite Marston's, in that cosy Didsbury pub, to that windy Sunday afternoon in May when 28,000 rose at Lord's to applaud him off the field.

Next to having a column erected in Trafalgar Square or a plaque in Westminster Abbey there can be few experiences to match it.

Atherton deserved every single palm-to-palm. Apart from one demonic delivery from Curtly Ambrose that all but cut him in half, and a couple more that came perilously close to the edge, he was in control of the other 150 plus balls he faced. His prime form is reflected in the fact that this was his fifth century of this young summer - his first ever at Lord's - and that he appeared three times on the balcony as Man of the Match, Man of the Series and winning captain.

His personal prizes were worth pounds 2,250 and Ray Illingworth might have smiled, remembering that it was here last year that he fined the captain pounds 2,000 for the dirt-in-pocket incident.

He is talking like a winner, too. "We've lost three tosses and not had the best of conditions yet won the series. All the things we weren't doing in Australia we are doing here; we're sharper between wickets and sharper in the field.

"West Indies were as keyed up as I've ever seen them in a one-day series but one or two of their batsmen failed to get scores. We had a tough start. Ambrose had a fantastic first spell and I was pleased to come through it and pleased when he had to be saved for later."

Atherton emphasized this result "has no relevance for the Test series. They will be a much stronger force but our side will be built on tne nucleus of this squad and we are very pleased with this result".

Richie Richardson admitted to disappointment. "Last time here we lost the one-days but won the Test series. Sherwin Campbell and Junior Murray have been pluses.Im this match we were unlucky early on for Curtly was almost unplayabale but didn't get any wickets in that spell."

The fact that Murray was West Indies man of the series really sums up their performance. Ambrose looked happier with his run-up and delivery but Courtney Walsh, still recovering from what is described as a "back twinge", was rested yesterday and unless and until these two are firing again England must start favourites for the Tests.

Comments