CRICKET: Atherton steers England to uplifting victory

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reports from Lord's

England 276-7

West Indies 203

England win by 73 runs

"Junk food" used to be Vivian Richards' not terribly flattering description of one-day cricket, but after an anorexic winter in both forms of combat, it made a pleasant change yesterday to witness England concluding this summer's cheeseburger course with a satisfying burp.

If they are honest, England's primary delight at coming from behind to win the Texaco Trophy 2-1 will be the extra pounds 900 per man in sponsored swag, and in terms of the more serious stuff ahead, taking a barometer reading from this series is about as useless as consulting a compass at the North Pole.

However, it will certainly do no harm to their confidence, and yesterday's 73-run victory here provided further evidence that Michael Atherton's form has certainly not been affected by being kept dangling for the captaincy. Perhaps Atherton, a keen student of the game's pyschology, has been going out to bat imagining that everyone bowling to him is an off-spinner called Illy.

Atherton's magnificent 127 yesterday was only four runs short of the highest individual innings ever made against the West Indies in 296 one- day internationals, and the fact that he made it off only 160 deliveries was all the more remarkable for the fact that, after the first 26 of them, his score stood at a slightly less spectacular 0 not out.

This was largely the product of losing the toss on a pitch that had seen rather too much of the groundsman's hosepipe, and with Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop also getting more pace and bounce than is usual at Lord's, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that England could have been 12 for 5 after the first half-hour.

However, once the early moisture had evaporated, batting became a good deal more straightforward,. It took him 96 balls for his first fifty, only 48 for his second, and 14 for his final 27 runs. He had never before made a one-day international century, and its quality was regally acknowledged by a full house. Not many of the 28,000 spectators remained seated as the England captain was applauded off.

His running between the wickets was stiletto sharp, particularly when a couple of greyhounds like Thorpe and Ramprakash were with him, and he even hit one of his rare sixes with a pull off Bishop. He must have thought it was his lucky day when he survived the new ball, and even more so after lobbing up a simple catch to mid-on off Bishop when he had made 29.

The catcher was Richie Richardson, for whom the umpire's call of "no- ball' was the start of one of those days. When the West Indies lose their discipline in the field, trying to captain them is the equivalent of being on traffic duty in New Delhi High Street. No matter how frantically you wave your arms and blow your whistle, when a maelstrom of bullock carts, motor-rickshaws, and cyclists all converge on the same square yard, it is total chaos.

Having started off as the model of discipline at Trent Bridge, the West Indies came familiarly off the rails yesterday. They donated no fewer than 19 extra balls in illegal deliveries, fielded as though they had been practising by trying to hit barn doors with bars of soap, and on one occasion, Keith Arthurton's celebration of catching Thorpe off yet another no-ball from Ambrose cost them an extra run. Ambrose, incidentally, finished the three match series with aggregate figures of 30-3-125-0.

Another by-product of Atherton batting for 52.1 overs was leaving Alan Wells with 3.5 in which to register his captaincy credentials when he passed Atherton on the pavilion steps. Wells, though, more than played his part (as did Gough with one extraordinary sliced mishit for six over cover point off Winston Benjamin) in an England assault that produced 98 runs off the last 10 overs.

Further confirmation that this was to be England's day duly followed after the West Indies had chugged away with 21 from the opening eight overs. Dominic Cork's first two deliveries were off stump half-volleys which Sherwin Campbell thrashed for four, and Cork's third was a leg stump half-volley which Campbell flicked to Atherton at square leg.

Cork's second wicket came from an even more ghastly offering, a near long hop about a foot and a half wide of off stump, and Brian Lara's snicked slash was beautifully caught behind by Alec Stewart, who took an even better one to get rid of Jimmy Adams. After batting 34 overs for 40, Carl Hooper's patience deserted him with a slog off Cork.

Arthurton and Richardson briefly raised West Indian hopes with a rapid partnership, but once they were split, their team evaporated in a spate of decidedly less cultured bat-throwing. And the spectators, some of whom had probably gone in for a spot of TV throwing when England were getting stuffed by Zimbabwe last winter, cheered themselves daft.

Lord's scoreboard

(West Indies won toss) England *M A Atherton c Adams b Gibson 127 (205 min, 160 balls, 14 fours, 1 six) A J Stewart c Lara b Bishop 8 (23 min, 16 balls, 2 fours) G A Hick b Hooper 24 (75 min, 55 balls, 3 fours) G P Thorpe c Hooper b Gibson 28 (51 min, 49 balls, 1 four) M R Ramprakash not out 29 (73 min, 43 balls, 1 four) A P Wells b Gibson 15 (9 min, 10 balls, 2 fours) D Gough b Benjamin 8 (5 min, 5 balls, 1 six) D G Cork lbw b Benjamin 0 (1 min, 1 ball) P J Martin not out 4 (1 min, 1 ball, 1 four) Extras (b4 lb13 w9 nb7) 33 Total (for 7, 226 min, 55 overs) 276 Fall: 1-12 (Stewart), 2-79 (Hick), 3-152 (Thorpe), 4-244 (Atherton), 5-263 (Wells), 6-272 (Gough), 7-272 (Cork). Did not bat: S D Udal, A R C Fraser. Bowling: Ambrose 11-1-45-0 (nb8 w1) (6-1-8-0, 2-0-10-0, 2-0-17-0, 1-0-10-0); Bishop 11-2-53-1 (nb1 w1) (6-2-17-1, 3-0-12-0, 2-0-24-0); Benjamin 10-0-61-2 (w4) (5-0-18-0, 4-0-31-0, 1-0-12-2); Gibson 11-0-51-3 (nb1 w3) (4-0-21-0, 5-0-21-1, 2-0-9-2); Hooper11-0-38-1; Arthurton 1-0-11-0 (one spell each). Progress: Rain delayed start until 11.00am. 50: 72 min, 105 balls. 100: 118 min, 178 balls. Lunch: 108-2 (Atherton 48, Thorpe 14) 30 overs. 150: 150 min, 239 balls. 200: 186 min, 293 balls. 250: 211 min, 324 balls. Innings closed: 3.23pm. Atherton's 50: 126 min, 96 balls, 7 fours. 100: 182 min, 144 balls, 12 fours. WEST INDIES S C Williams c Atherton b Cork 21 (38 min, 30 balls, 5 fours) C L Hooper c Gough b Cork 40 (133 min, 89 balls, 2 fours) B C Lara c Stewart b Cork 11 (15 min, 10 balls, 2 fours) J C Adams c Stewart b Martin 29 (47 min, 46 balls, 2 fours) K L T Arthurton c Stewart b Gough 35 (56 min, 49 balls, 6 fours) *R B Richardson lbw b Gough 23 (38 min, 33 balls, 1 four, 1 six) J R Murray b Fraser 5 (16 min, 7 balls) O D Gibson c Atherton b Fraser 7 (5 min, 8 balls) W K M Benjamin b Fraser 6 (11 min, 9 balls) I R Bishop not out 1 (10 min, 5 balls) C E L Ambrose b Martin 1 (6 min, 4 balls) Extras (lb13 w11) 24 Total (200 min, 48.2 overs) 203 Fall: 1-29 (Williams), 2-44 (Lara), 3-94 (Adams), 4-128 (Hooper), 5-171 (Arthurton), 6-184 (Richardson), 7-190 (Murray), 8-198 (Gibson), 9-201 (Benjamin), 10-203 (Ambrose). Bowling: Fraser 11-3-34-3 (w4) (6-3-15-0, 2-0-8-0, 3-0-11-3); Martin 9.2-1-36-2 (w5) (4-1-15-0, 4-0-16-1, 1-0-5-0, 0.2-0-0-1); Cork 9-2-27-3 (6-2-18-2, 3-0-9-1); Gough 10-0-31-2 (5-0-14-0, 4-0-15-2, 1-0-2-0); Udal 8-0-52-0 (w2) (4-0-28-0, 4-0-24-0); Hick1-0-10-0 (one spell). Progress: 50: 75 min, 112 balls. Tea: 85-2 (Hooper 23, Adams 24) 25 overs. 100: 112 min, 168 balls. 150: 146 min, 221 balls. 200: 192 min, 280 balls. Innings closed: 7.13pm. England won by 73 runs Man of the match: M A Atherton. Men of the series: J R Murray and M A Atherton. Umpires: J H Hampshire and M J Kitchen. TV Replay Umpire: J C Balderstone.