Cricket: Atherton's armoury limited

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The Independent Online
IT WAS a profound relief, once again, to watch a Test match that contained a real sense of challenge. Yet in the end it was a day which served to underline the inherent danger of playing only four bowlers.

As the Waugh twins, batting with great skill against off-spin, developed the partnership and the crucial mistake would not come against John Emburey and Peter Such, England's new captain must have longed to have one more arrow in his quiver. When the off-spinners could not part the brethren, Mike Atherton must have considered using seam at one end and off-spin at the other. But he will have been well aware that if that option had failed he would have had to fall back on the second new ball - as indeed he eventually did - at which point he wanted his two seam bowlers to be fresh. It was Catch 22.

This situation also illustrated the need to use any occasional bowler he had in the side. But Atherton did not turn to Graham Gooch, who has useful Test wickets to his name. Gooch may not have been keen to bowl and in any event may be playing his penultimate Test match. It is important, therefore, that Atherton himself, who purveys occasional leg-spin, should take every chance to turn his own arm over in the nets.

If his bowling was in some sort of working order it would give him another option as captain. Of all part- time bowlers, wrist spinners are the most valuable because they have a habit of making things happen as, for example, the late Ken Barrington's Surrey and England captains will testify.

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