The England captain, whose preparations for next week's first confrontation with Pakistan would not be harmed by a few runs here, lasted 15 balls before Dominic Cork found the edge of his bat and second slip pouched the catch.
Naturally, this damage to the national interest was of no concern to Cork. But only at that moment was there even a hint it might be their day.
With Atherton's departure came Crawley, just back from a pulled hamstring. On the way to the middle he must have decided that conditions were unsuitable for running up and down, for he proceeded to do nothing, literally, other than hit fours. Timing the ball beautifully, he reached 48 without scoring by any other means.
Although there have been two instances in first-class cricket of batsmen going from 0-50 entirely in boundaries - Rodney Marsh (eight fours, three sixes) for Western Australia in 1975-76, and Ken Rutherford (10 fours, two sixes) for Otago in 1990-91 - no search of record books yesterday could turn up a batsman getting there exclusively in fours.
In the event, Crawley did not do it either. His next scoring stroke, off the 52nd ball received, an off-drive against the spinner Matthew Vandrau, gathered pace in the outfield but could not beat Cork, spoiling things again, who stopped it with only inches to spare, restricting Crawley to three.
It will have bothered the batsman more, however, that he was then promptly out, spooning a catch to backward-point when a much larger score seemed in the offing.
But Gallian did not waste his opportunity on an ideal batting surface, nor Steve Titchard, his partner in a chanceless unbroken stand of 234. Gallian batted all day for 178 not out, a career best, and Atherton may well be discussing his name and Crawley's at selection meetings soon.Reuse content