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Gus Atkinson Shines with 7-Wicket Haul as England Overpowers West Indies on Day 1

3 min read
Gus Akinston

On the first day of James Anderson’s last test, England rookie Gus Atkinson stole the show at Lord’s, taking 7-45 to give the home team a 68-run advantage over the West Indies at stumps with seven wickets remaining.

The birthplace of cricket was set to honor Anderson on Wednesday, when he lined up for his nation for the very last time following a 22-year career that broke records. However, Surrey bowler Atkinson took center stage, helping to defeat the visitors for 121 all out in the opening test.

Anderson threw out Number 11. Jayden Seales to close out the inning and deliver the moment that the sold-out audience had come for.

At 189-3 at the end of their opening innings, thanks to half-centuries from Ollie Pope (57) and Zak Crawley (76), England had taken total command.

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But Atkinson did the heavy work, with first-class statistics that topped his career totals and becoming the seventh bowler to capture a five-for on debut when Ben Stokes was captain.

In his first delivery as a test player, he hit with his second ball, added another before giving up a run, and then in the afternoon session, he got three wickets in four balls.

With just a late boundary stopping him, Atkinson was on track to record the highest numbers by an England bowler in his test debut, surpassing only Dominic Cork’s 7-43 in 1995.

Even though Anderson was the star of his own departure party, he could have had a nostalgic flashback to his 2003 debut five-for at the same venue.

At the beginning of play, the nation’s record wicket-taker was everywhere. He was featured in a number of heartwarming television montages, plastered in silhouette on a commemorative sweatshirt available in the club shop, and stared out from the front of the matchday program. Ruby and Lola, his kids, even got the privilege of striking the five-minute bell to begin the day.

When Stokes won the toss and chose to bowl first under overcast skies, he gave the supporters exactly what they wanted, but an early breakthrough for the man of the moment was still lacking.

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With the new ball, Anderson bowled neatly and even beat the bat once or twice in a five-over burst, but nothing happened until Atkinson took over. Kraigg Brathwaite, the Windies skipper, brought down his own stumps after his second delivery, which was hardly more than a loosener.

The next wicket that Atkinson took was more traditional; he tricked Kirk McKenzie into a drive, only to have a thick edge go through to slip.

After lunch, the West Indies were down 61-3, but Stokes had taken out Mikyle Louis, the opener, for 27, with a magnificent one-handed slip catch off Harry Brook.

After the break, Atkinson came back to wreak havoc. In his ninth over, he got Alick Athanaze and Jason Holder caught in the cordon, taking him to a hat trick.

After defying a good hat-trick delivery, Joshua Da Silva fell victim to the next one, giving Jamie Smith, England’s new wicketkeeper, his first-ever catch and putting Atkinson on the honors board.

Pope made an outstanding reaction catch to capture Kavem Hodge, changing the score in eight balls from 88-3 to 88-7.

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Before Anderson wrapped things up by catching Seales lbw, Atkinson picked up two more, Alzarri Joseph and Shamar Joseph, who were both attempting and failing to dig their way out of trouble.

Seales retaliated by catching Ben Duckett off guard for three runs, but England cemented their dominance with a 94-run partnership between Pope and Crawley.

On their journey to 50, both men overcame Holder’s strong lbw arguments while sharing 19 boundaries.

Joe Root (15 not out) and Brook (25 not out) were left in place at the end when Holder eventually got his way by pinning Pope in front of the leg stump and yorking Crawley as he started to eye a century.