Shropshire Star

Gus Atkinson upstages retiring James Anderson as England skittle West Indies

Anderson belatedly got in on the act, dismissing number 11 Jayden Seales to end the innings.

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Debutant Gus Atkinson seized the spotlight on day one of James Anderson’s farewell Test, claiming stunning figures of seven for 45 as England blew away the West Indies at Lord’s.

The home of cricket was primed to pay tribute to Anderson, lining up for his country for the final time after a record-breaking 22-year career, but instead witnessed Atkinson kickstarting a new chapter in breathtaking fashion.

In a true torch-passing moment, the Surrey newcomer assumed centre stage by running through the tourists as they tumbled to 121 all out. England later reached 30 for one by tea, losing Ben Duckett.

Anderson belatedly got in on the act, dismissing number 11 Jayden Seales to end the innings and give a sellout crowd the moment they came for, but Atkinson well and truly stole the show.

He enjoyed a dream start to life at the top table, removing captain Kraigg Brathwaite with his second delivery as a Test cricketer, taking his next wicket before he had even conceded a run and then taking three wickets in an over in the afternoon session.

He was on course for the best ever figures by and English bowler on Test debut, denied only by a late boundary that left Dominic Cork’s haul of seven for 43 in 1995 intact.

While Anderson was upstaged at his own leaving party, he may have enjoyed a moment of nostalgia recalling his own debut five-for at the same ground back in 2003.

Atkinson becomes the fifth bowler to take a five-wicket haul on his first appearance under the captaincy of Ben Stokes, following Will Jacks, Rehan Ahmed, Josh Tongue and Tom Hartley.

Anderson was everywhere at the start of play – staring out from the front of the matchday programme, featuring in a series of loving television montages and even splashed in silhouette across a commemorative hoodie for sale at £60 in the club shop.

His daughters Ruby and Lola even had the honour of ringing the five-minute bell on the balcony of the pavilion. Stokes gave the fans what they wanted when he won the toss and opted to bowl first, but all that was missing was an early breakthrough for the man of the moment.

He bowled tidily and beat the bat a couple of times in a five-over burst with the new ball but it was not until Atkinson took over that things began to happen. His second ball was little more than a loosener but Brathwaite waved a crooked bat outside off stump and dragged down his own stumps.

Atkinson swiftly cleared 90mph on the speed gun and then picked up a more classical wicket, suckering Kirk McKenzie into a drive and seeing a thick edge sail through to slip. By the time he collected his cap he had two wickets in three overs and had yet to give up a single run.

The West Indies struggled to 61 for three at lunch, Stokes accounting for debutant opener Mikyle Louis thanks to a brilliant one-handed slip catch from Harry Brook.

James Anderson’s daughters ring the ball before play on day one (Steven Paston/PA)
James Anderson’s daughters ring the ball before play on day one (Steven Paston/PA)

The skipper’s reaction – open-mouthed and eyes bulging in shock – was reminiscent of Stuart Broad’s meme-worthy response to an even more memorable Stokes catch in the 2015 Ashes.

Atkinson returned to cause havoc after the interval, finding himself on a hat-trick in his ninth over as he probed away at good pace to have Alick Athanaze and Jason Holder caught in the cordon.

Josh Da Silva kept out a decent hat-trick ball but was gone to the next delivery pushing forward and feathering through to give England’s new wicketkeeper Jamie Smith his first catch and Atkinson his dream five-for.

A brilliant reaction catch from Ollie Pope did for Kavem Hodge – taking the score from 88 for three to 88 for seven in the space of eight balls. Atkinson greedily snapped up two more, Alzarri Joseph and Shamar Joseph both trying and failing to slog their way out of trouble, before Anderson finished things off by trapping Seales lbw.

The crowd sang his name as one but it was Atkinson who led the team from the field. Duckett made a scratchy three before nicking Seales behind, with Zak Crawley more expansive for 24 not out.

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