Cricket: Relief comes in half measures
Friday 05 June 1998
Atherton kissed his helmet discreetly and there was a brief hint of a wry grin, which was in response to Stewart's teasing as they met half- way down the pitch. "He said it was a crap shot," Atherton revealed, his 12th and most important boundary having skewed off the edge of the bat.
Afterwards, facing the ranks of a press with whom he had a sometimes frosty relationship as captain, it was clear he was not going to waste the opportunity to reflect on a day when the fates were on his side. Batsmen in mid-innings at close of play have been known to decline all interviews but, after 15 months, the chance to describe a Test century was not to be missed.
"They are all special but it has been a long time since the last one and I suppose there is a feeling of relief," he said.
"Whether the removal of the demands of captaincy had anything to do with it I cannot say but one of the reasons for my giving up the job was a lack of runs, so maybe this shows it was a good decision. I'll perhaps allow myself half a glass of champagne tonight.
"I didn't feel any different this morning. My preparation was the same as it would have been had I still been captain. I think where things are different is that over the last few weeks I have had more time to concentrate on myself, to think about my own game."
Atherton denied he had anything to prove, although he had spoken about needing to "invent a new phase" in his career. There was no better way than this for him to begin.
The day was one of frustration for South Africa, whose bowlers failed to make use of conditions favouring seam and swing and looked less of a force than had been anticipated. Nonetheless, Atherton paid them generous respect and said he had enjoyed much luck.
Latest in Sport
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...