Gus Atkinson: first look in Test cricket

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We don’t believe you can draw meaningful conclusions from players’ debuts – but we report on them anyway.

Much to admire, but can Gus Atkinson play the reverse sweep? And how grumpy will he be when England’s fielders revert to shelling one chance in three, rather than velcroing-in everything remotely within reach? These are surely the more important questions.


In terms of plain old bowling, Gus Atkinson did okay.

A wicket with your second ball can, technically, be improved upon. But not by much.

Similarly, 7-45 could have been 7-35 or 8-45 or whatever. He also had a chance to take a hat trick, but didn’t.

We’d be firmly in the realms of nit-picking if we were to take issue with these elements however – and those aren’t realms we wish to visit. The nit-picking realms are heavily populated with the kinds of sports fans you do not want to engage in conversation.

Never go there.


If there is an area where there would seem to be room for improvement, it is high-fiving.

Monty Panesar remains the high-fiving benchmark for England. Sure, they didn’t all come off, but Panesar delivered a surprisingly large percentage of clean, accurate, percussive hits – particularly when you consider that he invariably attempted to execute them while airborne.

There was no such ambition on display from Gus Atkinson and it was easy to see why.

Just look at this travesty of a wicket celebration.

And that’s executed from a grounded position.

Atkinson’s left hand has made reasonable contact with Stokes’ right. You’re not getting a satisfying palm-to-palm slapping sound with that sort of interaction, but it is at least hand-on-hand.

But his right? Man alive! He hasn’t even hit wrist there. That’s pure forearm, slipping towards elbow upon contact.

You see a horror show like that and you think, “I hope this bowler never takes another Test wicket.”

Alas, Gus Atkinson took six more after this happened – a return that should bring opportunities to attempt a great many more celebrations, what with all the vacancies opening up in the England team at the minute.

> James Anderson’s retirement: Why England will become more watchable without their most watchable bowler

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    1. If Gus A can do grump to a third of Jimmy A’s level or a tenth of Gus F’s level…

      …Gus A really is the right man for the changing of the guard.

      I was a little irritated by some of the “this is ruining the Jimmy script narrative” chat at Lord’s today. Cricket is a team game and Jimmy’s tight spells set up the wicket-taking spells from Gus A.

      Jimmy might take a fistful second dig, but it really doesn’t matter if he does or doesn’t.

      In some ways, it would be a more appropriate script if Jimmy simply hands over the mantle without fuss or flash results. Stuart Broad was always the showman destined to go out with a magic personal result. Jimmy just did his thing match after match, year after year…for England.
      Jimmy’s stats tell that story. Simply the best.

      1. Yeah absolutely. No real fan of this idea that the last game is somehow more significant than all the others and that’s certainly not the way Jimmy himself has been talking about his ambitions for the game.

        A great final game is similar to Mark Cavendish’s 35th Tour stage win earlier this month: nice if it happens, but by this point it doesn’t change anything meaningful.

  1. Anderson is batting, most probably for the final time. So what do we want from him? His overwhelmingly most common score is nought not out, so this is surely what we want from him.

      1. Nought not out without facing a ball.

        Daisy was really disappointed not to see him bat. I tried to explain that she did see him bat and that she did see him doing what he likes to do best with the bat.

        Daisy said she’d like to see Jimmy “take just one more wicket before we leave”. Jimmy duly got Athanaze to nick one off to the keeper. Daisy was head down, rummaging in her bag. at the time.

        There’s no pleasing some people.

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