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
Phil Hughes injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener fights for his life
Phil Hughes: Batsman had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich comment: Frank Lampard's part in City win shows folly of letting him leave
This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Schalke vs Chelsea: Roberto Di Matteo admits thrashing by former side was most painful defeat of his career
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...
£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...