Cricket: Atherton relishes West Indies test

In August Michael Atherton was contemplating stepping down as the England captain after four years in charge. Three months later he is anticipating the winter in the West Indies with enthusiasm, as David Llewellyn heard.

A lot has happened to Michael Atherton in the four years since he last led an England tour to the Caribbean. The dirt-in-the-pocket affair, a fine for dissent, the odd victorious rubber, a few more series defeats, a personal debate over whether he should step down from the job at the end of the Ashes summer, and the subsequent loss of the one- day captaincy.

Adam Hollioake has the honour of leading an England side in the Champions' Cup in Sharjah, but yesterday, as Atherton contemplated a tough tour to the West Indies, he was as relaxed as he has ever been and intimating that he would like to lead England in the one-day series in the Caribbean as well.

"The captaincy is not a decision that is in my hands," Atherton said. "But last season I led us to a 3-0 series win over Australia. I accept I am not part of the one-day squad. It's up to me to get back in it. But I did score a hundred in the second Texaco Trophy match against Australia at The Oval last summer." A gentle reminder that he can bat a bit in the shorter game.

But it is the Test series which matters and, his own technique aside, Atherton is a far more confident leader of his men than he was in the winter of 1994. Then he had two matches as captain under his belt, a win and a defeat against Australia.

"Looking back I was very green," admitted the England opener, who has now been in charge for a total of 46 of his 73 Tests. "That is not to say I think I did a bad job, but I have learned masses of things since then and I will be a lot better prepared to handle whatever comes around this time."

Atherton had to take five days out immediately after the final Test against Australia before making up his mind, but he said: "I am pleased with my decision. Four years ago when I was first appointed I was very enthusiastic. I'm still enthusiastic about the job but not as naive."

Now he can contemplate taking on the West Indies with greater equanimity. The Caribbean collective may be in apparent disarray and struggling in Pakistan, but Atherton does not assume they are any the weaker. "Pakistan is a tough place to tour," he warned. I think the West Indies will be a different side at home.

"In general the England team plays good cricket in the West Indies and this time I know what I'm in for as captain and opening batsman." In recent history, targeting a key figure in a touring side is a standard tactic in the Caribbean.

"I've enjoyed playing against the West Indies in the last two series." And no wonder, in that time he has taken three centuries and as many fifties off the world's most feared attack. "It's a challenge playing them. You have to concentrate and play well to score runs. As an opening batsman it's the biggest challenge there is."

That 1994 series heralded a wonderful run of form for Atherton. He is clearly looking for something similar this time around, and the captaincy no longer represents a burden. England expects.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: PR and Press Executive - Beauty

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue