Atkinson steals spotlight with seven-wicket haul

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LONDON (AP):

ENGLAND DEBUTANT Gus Atkinson stole the spotlight on the opening day of James Anderson’s farewell Test, claiming 7-45 at Lord’s as the hosts took a 68-run lead over West Indies at stumps with seven wickets remaining.

The home of cricket was primed yesterday to pay tribute to Anderson – lining up for his country for the final time after a record-breaking 22-year career – but instead witnessed Surrey pacer Atkinson assume centre stage as he helped to topple the tourists for 121 all out in the first Test.

Anderson dismissed number-11 Jayden Seales to end the innings and give a sell-out crowd the moment they came for.

England had assumed complete control by the close at 189-3 in their first innings, with half-centuries from Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57).

But the heavy lifting was done by Atkinson, who returned career-best figures as he became the fifth bowler to claim a five-for on debut under Ben Stokes’ captaincy.

He struck with only his second delivery as a Test cricketer, added another before he had even conceded a run, and then took three wickets in four balls during the afternoon session.

Atkinson was on course for the best figures by an England bowler on Test debut and was only denied by a late boundary that left Dominic Cork’s haul of 7-43 in 1995 intact.

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

RECORD WICKET-TAKER

The country’s record wicket-taker 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 splashed in silhouette across a commemorative hoodie on sale in the club shop. His daughters Ruby and Lola even had the honour of ringing the five-minute bell at the start of the day.

Stokes gave fans what they wanted when he won the toss and opted to bowl first under cloudy skies, but all that was missing was an early breakthrough for the man of the moment.

Anderson 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 Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite waved a crooked bat outside off stump and dragged onto his own stumps.

Atkinson then picked up a more classical wicket, suckering Kirk McKenzie into a drive and seeing a thick edge sail through to slip.

West Indies struggled to 61-3 at lunch, Stokes accounting for debutant opener Mikyle Louis for 27, thanks to a brilliant one-handed slip catch from Harry Brook.

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

Joshua Da Silva kept out a decent hat-trick delivery but succumbed to the next one, to give England’s new wicketkeeper Jamie Smith his first catch, and Atkinson a place on the honours board.

A brilliant reaction catch from Pope claimed Kavem Hodge – taking the score from 88-3 to 88-7 in the space of eight balls.

Atkinson 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.

Seales returned fire when he had Ben Duckett caught behind for three but England stamped their authority with a stand of 94 between Crawley and Pope.

Both men survived big lbw appeals from Holder on their way to 50, sharing 19 boundaries as they went.

Holder finally got a decision to go his way when he pinned Pope in front of leg stump and Seales yorked Crawley as he began to eye a century, leaving Joe Root (15 not out) and Brook (25 not out) in place at the close.

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