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‘I don’t think it’s sunk in yet’: Atkinson on debut Test burst of 7-45 at Lord’s

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‘I don’t think it’s sunk in yet’: Atkinson on debut Test burst of 7-45 at Lord’s

London, July 11 (IANS) England pacer Gus Atkinson wreaked havoc in his Test debut against West Indies at Lord’s as he returned with the figures of 7-45 to bowl out visitors for 121 on the opening day of the match.

On James Anderson’s farewell international match, Atkinson displayed commendable skills in his bowling and kept the Windies batters at bay. The 26-year-old pacer was amazed with his performance and said it was beyond what he could dream of.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I was looking up at the board seeing my figures and just thinking, ‘Wow.’ A very special day,” Atkinson reflected after the day’s play. “I was a bit nervous this morning. I woke up and all I could think about was the day ahead. I was a bit emotional this morning and then having my family there for my cap presentation – if you could have asked me what I wanted from my day that was pretty close to the top. It was pretty cool. Just to take a five-for is amazing, more than I could have dreamed of.

On a sluggish Day 1 pitch, Atkinson was called into the assault after the West Indies appeared to have sailed beyond the early turbulent waters, reaching 34 for no loss. Visiting captain Kraigg Brathwaite inside-edged Atkinson’s second delivery to the leg-stump. He had bowled three overs and grabbed two wickets before conceding his first run.

Atkinson admitted to being nervous during his first over and recalled his father’s advice to “relax”.

“I was trying to keep as level as possible. My dad was saying, ‘It’s the biggest day of your life.’ I was like ‘Relax! Relax – try not to think like that.’ I was a bit nervous to start with but once the first few overs were bowled I was pretty calm,” he reflected.

Atkinson relied on his ability to bowl fast cross-seam deliveries. He combined this by exploiting the Lord’s slope to good effect, as seen by left-handers Kirk McKenzie and Alick Athanaze getting thick edges to the slip cordon.

“My stock ball is that scrambled seam, it felt like today, bowling with the slope, bowling from the Pavilion End, that was my most dangerous ball,” Atkinson said.

“I was targeting fourth stump and trying to run it down the hill and with the left-handers, I was trying to push it across them with the odd in-swinger. I felt like that was the best way I could get the wickets. The seam was probably a bit more scrambled than I’d like but that is something I can work on. I feel like I can bowl quicker and hit the pitch harder when I bowl scrambled seam and it’s worked pretty well for me in the past.”

Antinkon’s second spell produced more fireworks as he took three wickets on fours balls in his ninth over, dismantling West Indies’ middle order. During the process, he also joined the growing list of England players including Tom Hartley, Josh Tongue, Rehan Ahmed, and Will Jacks, who have taken a five-for on their Test debut under Ben Stokes’ captaincy.

Atkinson continued his stunning run by taking two more wickets in his 11th over to wrap up his debut Test performance with seven scalps.

“The focus was on Jimmy so it was nice to go under the radar a bit and just focus on performing as best as I could,” Atkinson said. “To be out there alongside Jimmy in his final test was incredible, being in the Long Room, Jimmy leading us on the pitch was a pretty surreal moment.

“I’ve played a few white ball games here. It was special, I’ve always felt like I would bowl quite well here with the red ball so to be able to come out and get the opportunity in the first Test of the summer is great, and thankfully it went well,” the pacer added.

 

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