England vs West Indies: Gus Atkinson shows he can be hosts’ future

By this point, Atkinson had become the fifth England debutant to take a five-wicket haul in the two years Ben Stokes has been captain, following just two in the 13 previous years.

After Alzarri Joseph chipped to mid-on and Shamar Joseph got in an ugly tangle to be caught at backward point, Atkinson finished with 7-45, the best figures by an England bowler on Test bow since Dominic Cork on the same ground against the same opponents in 1995.

When Anderson trapped last man Jayden Seales lbw to leave West Indies 121 all out, the crowd sang Jimmy’s name, but it was Atkinson who led England from the field.

Those who know Atkinson say he is quiet, to the point of being shy. After he showed his well-earned match ball to the crowd as they applauded him off, he dropped it.

His father Ed was in the Lord’s Long Room, just as he was in the team huddle for the cap presentation at the beginning of the day, alongside Atkinson’s brother, sister and aunt. His mother Caroline passed away after a car crash four years ago.

“He’s a big cricket fan, to make him proud and my family proud is very special,” said Atkinson. “Walking through the Long Room at the end and seeing him there was pretty cool.”

At 26, Atkinson is something of a late developer. He did not make his Surrey debut until the age of 22 and this is his first first-class match at Lord’s.

“Gus Atkinson looks the real deal,” said former England captain Michael Vaughan. “He bowled with good zip and pace at the first time of asking.

“We know England are looking for pace. If you want to win a five-match series against India or Australia, you’re probably going to need five quicks that you can rotate.

“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.”

Life comes at you fast. Very soon Anderson will be England’s past. Atkinson has made a speedy claim to be a big part of their future.

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