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.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"