Debutant Atkinson (7-45) gives England first-day advantage against West Indies

SUMMARY: West Indies 121 all out from 41.4 overs (Mikyle Louis 27, Kavem Hodge 24, Alick Athanaze 23; Gus Atkinson 7-45) vs England 189-3 from 40 overs (Zak Crawley 76, Ollie Pope 57, Harry Brook 25*; Jayden Seales 2-31, Jason Holder 1-38)

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Gus Atkinson’s scintillating spell of 7-45 showed England a future beyond James Anderson and put the home side in a commanding position on day one of the first Test against West Indies.

While Lord’s began the farewell to Anderson in the final Test of his legendary career, it was Atkinson, winning his first cap, who led the way with the best figures by an England debutant for 29 years.

At one point the Surrey pace bowler claimed a triple-wicket maiden as the tourists fell apart in a slump of four wickets for no runs in eight balls.

Anderson nipped in to have last man Jayden Seales lbw, leaving West Indies 121 all out after they had been asked to bat under dark skies and floodlights.

On a true, slow pitch, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope swiftly put England ahead following Ben Duckett’s edge behind off Seales for only three.

Crawley could have been run out without scoring and Pope overturned being given lbw on 33, but they used the reprieves to add 94 for the second wicket.

Pope was eventually leg-before to Jason Holder for 57 and Crawley bowled by Seales for 76, allowing Joe Root and Harry Brook to take England to 189-3 and a lead of 68.

Gus Atkinson raises the ball after taking a five-wicket haul on debut (Photo: Getty Images)

Out with the old, in with a new era

Speaking on the eve of the match, captain Ben Stokes said his England team have not been given a “reboot”, yet there is no doubt this first home Test in almost a year is a new beginning in the Stokes-Brendon McCullum era.

With England building for the Ashes in the winter of 2025-26, out have gone Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes and Jack Leach. Most importantly, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker Anderson is being moved on just shy of his 42nd birthday, saying goodbye on the ground where his Test career began 21 years ago.

Stokes’ success at the toss gave an expectant crowd the earliest possible opportunity to see Anderson bowl. A video tribute aired before play, Anderson led England on to the field for the anthems and he was visibly moved when his wife, daughters and parents gathered to ring the five-minute bell.

If the occasion and conditions were set for Anderson, it was Atkinson, all of 187 caps behind England’s greatest bowler, who stole the show. Jamie Smith, England’s other debutant, took a catch behind the stumps, while off-spinner Shoaib Bashir was not required.

West Indies’ last Test may have been a famous win against Australia at the Gabba in January, but fears over their fragile top order were realised and England have a golden opportunity for a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Zak Crawley (left) and Ollie Pope scored fifties to strengthen England’s position (Photos: Getty Images)

Awesome Atkinson leads the way

Atkinson has been threatening an England breakthrough for some time. Already with nine one-day internationals and three T20s to his name, he was part of the squad for the Test tour of India earlier this year.

West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Mikyle Louis looked relatively comfortable against Anderson and Chris Woakes, only for the introduction of Atkinson’s extra pace in the 11th over to bring instant rewards.

With his second delivery in Test cricket, Atkinson got Brathwaite to drag on. His first over averaged 87.86mph, England’s second-fastest first over by a debutant in the ball-tracking era, behind Steven Finn. In his third over, Atkinson had Kirk McKenzie edge to second slip in an overall spell of five overs, four maidens, 2-2.

The 26-year-old was trusted with the ball straight after lunch and repaid Stokes’ faith with the first triple-wicket maiden by an England bowler in Test cricket since Stuart Broad in 2011.

Alick Athanaze nicked to first slip, Holder edged his first ball to third slip, then Joshua da Silva survived the hat-trick before inside-edging the next delivery to keeper Smith.

It was uncomplicated from Atkinson, who slipped in down the slope from the Pavilion End. He hit a top speed of 90.4 mph, found a touch of movement from a full length and also sprinkled in regular bouncers.

When Alzarri Joseph was held at mid-on and a tangled Shamar Joseph got caught at point, Atkinson had the best figures by an England debutant since Dominic Cork against West Indies on this ground in 1995. (BBC)

 

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