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Atkinson's seven puts England on top against Windies

First Rothesay Test (day one of five), Lord's:

West Indies 121: Louis 27; Atkinson 7-45

England 189-3: Crawley 76, Pope 57

England lead by 68 runs

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.

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.

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.

England's all-round day

Atkinson was the star in a superb all-round showing from England, who are looking to bounce back from four successive defeats in India.

Stokes, back to playing a full part as an all-rounder after surgery to his left knee, bowled an encouraging eight-over spell.

The captain’s one wicket, that of West Indies’ debutant Louis, was courtesy of a spectacular one-handed catch by Brook at third slip. Pope also held on to a stunner at short point, drilled to him by Kavem Hodge off the bowling of Woakes.

A mix-up with Duckett should have led to Crawley’s demise from the third ball of the reply, but Hodge’s throw from the slips missed the stumps. Left-hander Duckett was dropped on one by Louis at point off Alzarri Joseph then fell trying to drive one angled down the slope by Seales.

Despite the gloom and a potent Windies attack, England made characteristically brisk progress either side of a 20-minute stoppage for bad light. Crawley, in particular, was irresistible through the covers.

When was given leg before to Holder, replay showed the ball to be missing leg stump. The England vice-captain had occasional luck with slashes past the slips before Holder had his revenge with a full delivery.

Crawley looked primed for a century until he was also undone by a full, straight delivery, losing his leg stump to the impressive Seales.

'Atkinson looks the real deal' - what they said

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan: "Gus Atkinson looks the real deal. He looks great.

"Getting that wicket second ball, I can only imagine the confidence that gives you as a bowler.

"We know [director of cricket] Rob Key is looking for pace. If you want to win a five-match series against India or Australia, you're going to need probably five quicks that you can rotate across the five matches.

"The hope for England by next summer is that they've got a group of bowlers that you don't know who you're going to leave out."