September 3, 2000

Oval gives ovation to Atherton

Staff and agencies

Just days after hinting that next summer's Ashes series could be his last International appearance, Atherton scored a century - his first at London to receive a strong ovation from the Oval crowd today.

He scored 108 against the touring Caribbean to set up a winning target of 373 runs for the tourists to retain the Wisden Trophy. West Indies have little hope of winning as their previous best total to win a Test match was 348 for 5 against New Zealand at Auckland in 1969.

West Indies ended the fourth day at 33 for no loss needing a further 341 to prevent England's wait of a series win over them since 1969. Earlier Atherton who resumed on 36 with England at 56 for 2, batted patiently for about seven and half hours to score his century.

"It didn't come as a surprise to me because I don't believe anybody has a right to a place unless he clearly deserves it - and at Old Trafford and Headingley I had struggled", he said on the talk before the match that he may be omitted if England plays a spinner at the expense of a batsman.

England would have been struggling without his efforts. He followed his first innings 83 with a watchful 108 in the second to be appreciated every bit by the crowd. England looking to bat Windies out of the contest, lost Thorpe (10) in the fourth over to Walsh. Then Stewart (25), Vaughan (9) and Hick (0) followed to make it 139 for 6. Craig White was run out by Griffith for 18 as McLean cleaned up Caddick (0) and Cork (26). Then Walsh dismissed Atherton for the last wicket.

The emotion of Atherton's brilliant century still hanging in the air, the crowd rose again to salute the Curtly Ambrose as he walked off the pitch having bowling in a Test match for the final time, finishing with 405 victims from his 98 appearances. Walsh who finished one short of equalling Marshall's record, was also applauded.

But the day still belonged to Atherton and England.