Atkinson’s record feat puts England in command at Lord’s

Gus Atkinson, whose 7/45 on Test debut is the second-best return by an England bowler on Test debut, admits the attention on James Anderson's farewell helped him find his rhythm.

Gus Atkinson had a near-perfect first Test outing on Wednesday when he recorded the second-best bowling figures in an innings by an England debutant in Test history.

While all eyes were on James Anderson in his farewell Test, it was Atkinson who claimed wickets in a flurry – his 7/45 was second only to Dominic Cork's 7/43 against West Indies at Lord's in 1995.

Best figures by an England men's bowler on debut in Tests

Dominic CorkWest Indies19957/43
Gus AtkinsonWest Indies20247/45
John LeverIndia19767/46
Alec BedserIndia19467/49
James LangridgeWest Indies19337/56

Atkinson began in style, snaring the West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite off just his second ball in Test cricket, with the opener playing onto his stumps.

Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva, Alzarri Joseph and Shamar Joseph would all subsequently fall victim to Atkinson, who had a day to remember.

Reflecting on the day, Atkinson admitted the attention on Anderson's farewell helped him ease into proceedings.

"My dad kept saying, 'this is the biggest day of your life!'

"I was still pretty nervous going into it.

"But the focus was on Jimmy, so it was quite nice to go under the radar a bit."

Described as a different threat by England teammates who have watched him up close, Atkinson used his natural angle into West Indies' right-handers with great aplomb, also making the most of famous Lord's slope, compounding his inward movement.

"My stock ball is scrambled seam. With the slope from the Pavilion End, that was my most dangerous ball, targeting fourth stump and trying to run it down the hill.

"(Then) trying to push it across the lefties, with the odd in-swinger. That was the best way I could get wickets.

"The seam was a bit more scrambled than I'd like, but that's something I could work on."

While Cork’s debut had helped England to a 72-run win in 1995, against the same opposition at the same venue, Atkinson’s figures have given Ben Stokes’ side a huge advantage going into the second innings – West Indies were bowled out for 121 in the first innings, with England responding strongly in their batting attempt, with Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57) hitting fifties.

England ended the day at 189/3, 68 ahead of the West Indies total, with Joe Root (15*)* and Harry Brook (25) unbeaten.

ICC World Test ChampionshipICC World Test Championship 23-25EnglandGus Atkinson 01/19/1998News