Cricket: Atherton epic puts selectors on alert

County Championship: Former England captain hits a career-best 268 while fellow internationals revive Surrey; Lancashire 556-6 dec Glamorgan 193-6

IT WAS meant to be a gentle comeback, built around some solid performances for Lancashire over their eight remaining Championship matches. But, by turning Wednesday's brilliance into a massive career-best here yesterday, Michael Atherton set in motion a tricky dilemma for the England selectors.

Atherton's unbeaten 268, a nine-hour epic in Stanley Park that eclipsed last winter's 210 in Hobart - for England against an Australian XI - as the highest score of his career, emphasised not only the improved state of his back, but suggested that his form is unlikely to get much better. Jack Simmons, the Lancashire chairman, who has witnessed the former England captain's entire career, said it was as well as he had seen him play for Lancashire. "It was a magnificent innings in defence and attack," he said. "It will give a lot of messages to the right people."

Those people had been given to believe that Atherton, whose problems forced him to miss the World Cup and the opening Test of the New Zealand series, could be written off for the moment, allowing them to look around for a younger alternative when they decide, as seems inevitable, to put Alec Stewart out of his agony. Many more days like these, however, and the timetable for Atherton to be considered for a comeback may have to be altered.

Not that there can be many more days like these. His previous highest score for Lancashire was 199 against Durham in 1992 and when he smashed Darren Thomas square on the off side for the 30th of his 41 boundaries, he passed 200 for only the second time. His strokeplay was at times truly exquisite. "If you are not in the Test side all you can do is score runs for your county and try to give the selectors a nudge," he had said. This was not so much a nudge as a flat-out bowling over.

Fingers remain crossed over his fitness. He has been diagnosed as suffering from osteo-arthritis, as well as his long-standing back problem. "This is a terrific test, bigger perhaps than we would have wanted at this stage," Laurie Brown, the Lancashire physio, said. "We have to be wary because we thought he was OK at the Oval [his only other Championship game this season] and then his back went into spasm again."

Atherton's runs helped Lancashire reach 556 for 6 a quarter of an hour after lunch yesterday before the captain, John Crawley, declared in order to let Muttiah Muralitharan loose.

It did not take him long to weave his magic. The Sri Lankan wrist spinner, with 37 wickets in three Championship matches before yesterday, bowled unchanged for three hours and 20 minutes and had added five more - and taken a catch - as Glamorgan, needing 407 to avoid the follow-on, finished on 193 for 6.

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own