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England vs West Indies: Gus Atkinson’s Seven-Wicket Haul Signals a Bright Future for Ben Stokes’ Side

Gus Atkinson Shines on Debut with 7-Wicket Haul at Lord's

England’s Test debutant Gus Atkinson (7-45) delivered a sensational performance, claiming a seven-wicket haul at Lord’s as the hosts dismissed West Indies for 121 on day one of the first Test before reaching 189-3 at stumps. Watch day two live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.15am on Thursday.

Making your Test debut at Lord’s is a special occasion, but taking a seven-wicket haul is extraordinary. Surrey seamer Gus Atkinson (7-45) demonstrated that England’s Test future is in safe hands, helping the hosts skittle West Indies for 121 on day one of the first Test at the home of cricket. The 26-year-old joined the distinguished company of Tom Hartley (vs India, 2024), Josh Tongue (vs Australia, 2023), Rehan Ahmed (vs Pakistan, 2023), and Will Jacks (vs Pakistan, 2022) as England players who have recently taken a five-for on debut, with Atkinson going two scalps further. In his 12 overs, Atkinson bowled 30 dot balls and claimed three wickets in four deliveries at one stage, leaving the Lord’s crowd stunned. Four overs later, he took two wickets in three balls, prompting roars of jubilation from his teammates and the spectators. It was a scene Atkinson admitted he “couldn’t have even dreamt of” when he was presented with his cap by Surrey teammate Ollie Pope alongside his family.

“I was trying to keep as level as possible before, and my dad kept saying it was the biggest day of my life,” he said after the close of play. “I had to tell him to relax because I was trying not to think like that. I was a bit nervous to start, but after the first few overs were bowled, then I was pretty calm.” Atkinson took the first two wickets without conceding a run and then became the fifth player on debut under Ben Stokes to claim a five-for. He also sits at the top of that list for the quickest Englishman to achieve the feat, doing it in 53 balls.

Earlier this summer, England’s managing director Rob Key said he would prioritize bowlers who could offer pace as opposed to merely taking wickets, but Atkinson did both. He finished with the third-best figures for an Englishman on Test debut, conceding two runs more than pace bowler Dominic Cork, who took 7-43, also against West Indies, in 1995. Atkinson picked up a wicket with his second ball, inducing a bottom edge from West Indies’ most experienced Test batter and captain, Kraigg Brathwaite (6), which cannoned onto the stumps for England’s breakthrough.

Starting the day with cross-seam deliveries, Atkinson switched to a tighter wobble seam due to the unexpectedly dry pitch. This adjustment troubled the left-handers, leading to wickets for Kirk McKenzie (1) and Alick Athanaze (23), who edged to Zak Crawley and Jamie Smith, respectively.

“My stock ball is that scrambled seam. It felt like today, bowling with the slope from the Pavilion End, that was my most dangerous ball,” Atkinson added. “I was targeting fourth stump and trying to run it down the hill, and with the left-handers, I was trying to push it across them with the occasional in-swinger. I felt like that was the best way I could get wickets. The seam was probably a bit more scrambled than I’d like, but that’s something I can work on. I feel like I can bowl quicker and hit the pitch harder when I bowl scrambled seam, and it’s worked pretty well for me in the past.”

Having only played 21 first-class games before his Test debut, Atkinson’s success highlights the effectiveness of England’s scouting system, which prioritizes technology over traditional in-person selection. This same method discovered Somerset’s off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, who also impressed on his debut in India earlier this year, earning him a spot in this Test.

What Atkinson does with the ball, Harry Brook (25*) does with the bat. The 25-year-old, who missed the India tour for personal reasons, returned to the Test fold for the first time since appearing at The Oval against Australia in 2023. Brook made an extraordinary start to his Test career, amassing 809 runs in his first six appearances for England, and looks poised to continue contributing significantly with the bat.

With James Anderson bowing out after the Lord’s Test, a new era is dawning for Stokes’ side as they prepare for The Ashes in 2025. The team, bolstered by its promising youngsters, seems not only safe but brimming with potential.

Credit: Sky Sports

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