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Mike Atherton
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Mike Atherton

England|Opening batter
Mike Atherton

INTL CAREER: 1989 - 2001

Full Name

Michael Andrew Atherton

Born

March 23, 1968, Failsworth, Manchester, Lancashire

Age

53y 87d

Nicknames

Cockroach, FEC, Athers, Dread

Batting Style

Right hand bat

Bowling Style

Legbreak

Playing Role

Opening batter

Height

6ft

Education

Manchester Grammar School; Downing College, Cambridge

Other

Commentator, Journalist, Author

TEAMS

Gutsy and stubborn, single-minded and sledger-proof, Mike Atherton was an opener in the classic English tradition, making batting look like trench warfare. Defence was his forte, but when his bad back wasn't playing up, he hooked freely and timed the ball sweetly through point. In opponents' eyes, he was England's most wanted man for the seven years until his retirement at the end of the 2001 Ashes. Thrust into the captaincy at the age of 25, he proved more durable than successful, but after finally resigning in 1998, he slipped comfortably into the role of elder statesman. Australia seldom saw the best of him, but his relish for a personal duel did much to bring about series victories over both South Africa (1998) and West Indies (2000). He retired in 2001 and slipped easily into the media, establishing a reputation as one of the better player-broadcasters as well as a no-nonsense journalist. Lawrence Booth

Tribute

It surprised nobody. Mike Atherton bowed out of Test cricket not with a sumptuous century but with a niggardly 9. His destroyer? That script had been written a long time ago.

At 12.15 on a gloomy Sunday, as England were following on, Glenn McGrath metronomed in, extracted some extra bounce, and Atherton edged him to Warne. He was McGrath's bunny for the sixth time in this series and for a world-record 19th time in all.

But records are just numbers, and numbers tell you next to nothing about Atherton. A final Test average of 38 adds up to just an adequate Test cricketer. But he was more than adequate, much more. For a decade he held England together. Nobody in the world has scored more Test runs since the start of the 1990s. He was the toffee apple surrounded by candy floss, the wicket above all others that the opposition savoured.

He was strong off the back foot, happiest pulling the fast bowlers, happiest of all when his back (which gave him much pain over the years) was forced against the wall. His defining moment came at Johannesburg in 1995-96, with a 643-minute 185 not out, which defied the forces of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock and saved a Test that had been down and out. Make that defining monument.

And then two and a half years later, again against South Africa, again against Donald, he sealed his reputation. At Trent Bridge, in a session of cricket which parched the mouth, he resisted a furious onslaught of short-pitched bowling from around the wicket to take England to a series-turning victory.

Though he has never worn his nationality on his sleeve like Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton is nothing if not English. From his stubbornness to his accent, from his scruffiness to his guts, he oozed pride in his job - never made excuses for a bad shot, always knew that there was more to life than a century. And despite his media persona of impeccable grumpiness, perfected during his record-breaking run as captain, he was much loved by the public. An Englishman who made runs during the 1990s was forgiven anything.

He was an unconventional cricketer. He didn't marry early, he hasn't had children, he didn't care to flash his private life around the papers. He preferred Pat Barker to Tom Clancy and chess to PlayStation. He wasn't afraid of controversy - the dirt-in-the-pocket affair, his unconcealed disagreements with his second chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth, his early promotion to the captaincy over the head of the un-Cambridge-educated Stewart.

He wanted to leave without a fuss, and he did. There was no bang, but neither, despite the single-figure score, was there a hint of a whimper. Cricket will miss Michael Atherton. Tanya Aldred, September 2001

Career Averages

Batting & Fielding
FormatMatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100s50s4s6sCtSt
Test11521277728185*37.692060937.4916469044830
ODI54543179112735.11305458.642121551150
FC3365844721929268*40.83541072680
List A28727923934312736.4914591110
Bowling
FormatMatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10w
Test1151440830221/201/20151.004.44204.00000
ODI54------------
FC336898147331086/7843.823.1683.1030
List A287812711244/424/4229.625.2533.80100
Michael Andrew Atherton
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Debut/Last Matches - Player

Photos


Josh de Caires, son of Michael Atherton, drives into the covers
Michael Holding and Michael Atherton on commentary duty
Shaun Pollock, Michael Atherton and Ian Ward film a bit for Sky Sports
Dom Sibley is presented with his England cap by Michael Atherton
Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat in a must-win match
Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and Michael Holding