The Realm’s England XI – 1. Mike Atherton

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We’re picking an England XI comprising the players we invested in the most.

Our very first ‘favourite player’ was Graham Gooch, but that’s less significant than it sounds because he stepped into a void. All that happened was we read some kids’ cricket book that had a ‘hall of fame’ in it and of the current England players who featured, Ian Botham and David Gower were too obvious, so we decided that Gooch was ‘our guy’.

It was based on nothing really. This is not what’s ruled him out of our team though. What’s done for him is the fact that we can’t remember following a Test match where he wasn’t superseded by his young opening partner, Mike Atherton (and back when he was our favourite player, he was always ‘Mike’ not ‘Michael’).

Atherton’s was the first international career we followed from start to finish. Special Correspondent Dad told us there was this Lancashire batsman that he thought was going to play for England and that someone Dad had played cricket with had coached him or given him some tips or batted in an adjacent net or something. That was enough.

Atherton did indeed go on to play for England. He played 115 times, in fact, including 54 times as captain. Then he’s commentated on pretty much every Test since then.

Bloody hell, Athers has been a significant figure when you break it down like that.

We vividly remember that for most of his career, Atherton was a statistical tease. After 10 Tests, he averaged 40 and after 50 Tests, he averaged 39.

What are semi-rational player fixations about if not yearning for your man’s average to start with a 4 not a 3?

> When Mike Atherton was run-out for 99 – was this the worst ‘no’ in the history of cricket?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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    1. By travelling back in time, seeking us out and speaking to us to influence our historic opinions.

  1. Sad that i missed yesterday’s comment thread. This is an absolute winner of an idea for articles KC. I suspect there is a book in it somehow too that a number of your subjects would buy.

    Also cannot tell you all how delighted i was that Hick featured in so many of the lists of peoples favourites. I always thought i was alone in that fascination.

    Not sure i can do a whole XI but there are a number of county cricketers (some who never really cracked it at county level even) that i used to fervently hope they did well. Simon Ecclestone, Steve Watkin, Hick obvs, Simon Ellis from Kent, Mark Eahlam, Graham Cowdrey, Stuart Leatherdale to name a few.

    At international level Ballance was another one.

  2. Is this going to be an all-Lancashire XI?

    Athers, Gallian, Hameed, Crawley, Fairbrother, Hegg, Cork, Watkinson, DeFreitas, Martin, Anderson?

  3. So fitting that in all the sky sports lockdown coverage, Atherton has the decidedly poor choppy WiFi.

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