Cricket: History suggests the end of Atherton's era
Monday 11 August 1997
When England lost at home to Australia in 1972, it was the cue for Mike Denness to fall on his sword. Likewise in 1989 when David Gower presided over a 0-4 scoreline. And again in 1993, when a 4-1 victory for the Australians brought about the end of Graham Gooch.
If Michael Atherton is to break with this tradition and lead England in the West Indies this winter despite yet another decisive defeat, it will be only because of the lack of a successor who is genuinely ready to step up. Even then, it may not be enough to persuade him to stay on.
In the aftermath of defeat at Trent Bridge, he played a straight bat to questions over his future. Having denied on Saturday that he offered to resign following the Headingley Test, he added few words on the subject yesterday.
Should he go, Nasser Hussain would be the obvious candidate, but there are still doubts over the reliability of the Essex batsman's form. There is a growing clamour for Adam Hollioake, even after just one Test as an England player, but this is driven more by romance than logic.
Atherton would look a better captain had he been blessed with the resources that will enable Mark Taylor to be recalled among Australia's most successful leaders. Had Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne been born English, this summer might have unfolded in much different light.
"It is some consolation to have lost to a very good side but we had chances at Old Trafford and Headingley and did not take them," he said. "The key difference was that Australia always had a couple of match-winning players that maybe we didn't have. Inevitably the focus will be on England's shortcomings but Australia played very well and should be congratulated."
Curiously, Taylor may be also be nearing the end of his tenure, even though, under his guidance, Australia have become undisputed world champions and extended their dominance of the Ashes to five consecutive series wins. The issue in his case is not one of leadership but form. Like his counterpart, however, he would not be drawn on his own plans. "I have a few thoughts but I'm not going to make them known at this stage," he said.
In victory Taylor was typically generous. "I haven't said this before but we are the best side in the world and England have put us under pressure in this series. To have come back after losing the first Test feels very special."
Latest in Sport
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...