In the early afternoon England were in a difficult situation. On a slow, flat pitch two batsmen, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saeed Anwar, had put on 130 and were not in the slightest difficulty against any of the bowlers. Pakistan were heading for a big total. It was then that Atherton suddenly threw the ball to Graeme Hick, who is nowadays little more than an occasional off-spinner, preferring to use him rather than his one specialist spinner, Ian Salisbury, who had already bowled four overs for 18 runs before lunch.
Hick's first two balls had Inzamam in a tangle. He came down the pitch to the first but did not quite get to the pitch of the ball and had to fall back on an improvised, crab-like defensive stroke. He pushed out to the second and it flew off his pad to slip, before turning the third to square leg for a single. His fourth ball to Saeed Anwar was short. Saeed could hardly believe his luck and, making room for himself, played a wild square cut. But the ball turned away from the left-hander, found the edge, and he was caught behind.
Atherton had backed a hunch and it had worked. Another unusual aspect of the affair was that Atherton, who often seems deeply suspicious of spin, had, in a moment of need, turned to a spinner. One can only hope that the success of this inspiration will come to make him more flexible and more inclined to take a similar chance in the future.
This incident also showed the importance of having a bowler in your side who, in normal circumstances, you would not be expected to call upon but who, in a sitution like this, is well worth an over or two.Reuse content