Cricket: Atherton ready to take international stage
Friday 15 May 1998
IF ANYONE had any doubts about the state of Michael Atherton's game, they must have been emphatically dispelled here yesterday.
The popular perception that the former England captain's career was in terminal decline was dismissed with contempt. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While not exactly putting Kent to the sword - it was a somewhat blunter instrument that he wielded to great effect - Atherton certainly made Kent's day in the field a miserable one. There were no dramatics from him. Not an alarm went off during his stay, which lasted seven and three quarter hours. The progress was serene. He was unhurried, unflustered. To watch him compile his first first-class hundred - and indeed his first century in any form of cricket since the one he scored against Surrey at The Oval last September - was rather like sitting in one's garden and turning the pages of War and Peace; some bits were uninteresting, but if the eye skipped the occasional page it did not matter too much as there was plenty of time to pick up the plot.
In the context of Atherton's perceived situation of having to fight with the pack to ensure his place in the Test side, then it was a fascinating read. Chapter by chapter Atherton gradually restored himself as someone who is likely to be one of the chief protagonists for this summer's series against South Africa.
It took him more than five and a half hours to reach the 45th first-class hundred of his career and his 26th for Lancashire. There were just seven fours in the 311 balls he faced.
By then he was well on the way to a fifth-wicket stand of 121 with Mike Watkinson, who added a bit of pizzazz to the Lancashire innings as he cracked a good-looking 87 with a six and 14 other boundaries before holing out on the mid-wicket boundary in mid-afternoon. If a shadow of criticism could be permitted to pass across the sunshine of Atherton's welcome return to form, it would perhaps be that Lancashire missed out on a fourth batting point by just five runs. Maybe it was because Atherton spent 71 minutes in the 80s and a further half hour in the 90s. But that is just being picky.
Besides, he had a partner at the time, the wicketkeeper Warren Hegg, who himself went on to reach a worthy fifty. It was absorbing stuff throughout, watching two contests, that of bat against ball and man against himself.
Eventually, some time after tea, the last page was finally turned. In attempting to cut the 404th ball of his innings Atherton succeeded only in presenting Carl Hopper at slip with a catch off Matthew Fleming. The book closed with Atherton having passed the 150 mark for the ninth time in his distinguished career, and he had helped Lancashire's - and his own - cause no end.
Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments
Latest in Sport
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal offloads fringe players as he looks to the long term
Radamel Falcao transfer latest: Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City linked with blockbuster move
Tottenham to offer Andros Townsend to Southampton in £14m deadline day bid for Jay Rodriguez
Tottenham vs Liverpool player ratings: Who was the star man? Raheem Sterling? Alberto Moreno? Or new-boy Mario Balotelli?
Everton vs Chelsea player ratings: Who was best in the nine-goal thriller at Goodison?
- 1 Is Apple's iCloud safe after leak of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities' nude photos?
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...
£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...
£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...