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Debutant Gus Atkinson steals retiring James Anderson’s limelight at Lord’s

The Surrey paceman assumed centre stage as he toppled the tourists for 121.

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Debutant Gus Atkinson gatecrashed James Anderson’s leaving party at Lord’s, claiming stunning figures of seven for 45 as England blew away West Indies on day one of the first Test.

The home of cricket was primed to pay tribute to Anderson, lining up for his country for the final time after a record-breaking 22-year career, but instead witnessed Atkinson kickstarting a new chapter in breathtaking fashion.

In a true torch-passing moment, the Surrey paceman assumed centre stage as he toppled the tourists for 121.

Anderson belatedly got in on the act, dismissing number 11 Jayden Seales to end the innings and give a sellout crowd the moment they came for, but Atkinson well and truly stole the show.

England had assumed complete control by the close, moving into a 68-run lead as half-centuries from Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57) left them 189 for three.

But the heavy lifting was done by Atkinson, who returned career-best first-class figures as he became the fifth bowler to claim a five-for on debut under Ben Stokes’ captaincy.

He opened his account with his second delivery as a Test cricketer, added another before he had even conceded a run and then took three wickets in four balls during the afternoon session.

He was on course for the best figures by an English bowler on Test debut, denied only by a late boundary that left Dominic Cork’s haul of seven for 43 in 1995 intact.

While Anderson was upstaged at his own farewell event, he may have enjoyed a moment of nostalgia recalling his own debut five-for at the same ground back in 2003.

The country’s record wicket-taker was everywhere at the start of play – staring out from the front of the matchday programme, featuring in a series of loving television montages and splashed in silhouette across a commemorative hoodie on sale at £60 in the club shop.

His daughters Ruby and Lola even had the honour of ringing the five-minute bell at the start of the day.

Stokes gave fans what they wanted when he won the toss and opted to bowl first under cloudy skies, but all that was missing was an early breakthrough for the man of the moment.

James Anderson, left, waits to walk out onto the field of play at Lord's
James Anderson, left, started his final Test for England (Steven Paston/PA)

He bowled tidily and beat the bat a couple of times in a five-over burst with the new ball but it was not until Atkinson took over that things began to happen.

His second ball was little more than a loosener but Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite waved a crooked bat outside off stump and dragged down his own stumps.

Atkinson soon touched 90mph on the speed gun and then picked up a more classical wicket, suckering Kirk McKenzie into a drive and seeing a thick edge sail through to slip.

By the end of his first spell he boasted pristine figures of 5-3-2-2.

West Indies struggled to 61 for three at lunch, Stokes accounting for debutant opener Mikyle Louis for 27 thanks to a brilliant one-handed slip catch from Harry Brook.

The skipper’s reaction – open-mouthed and eyes bulging in shock – was reminiscent of Stuart Broad’s meme-worthy response to an even more memorable Stokes catch in the 2015 Ashes.

Atkinson returned to cause havoc after the interval, finding himself on a hat-trick in his ninth over as he pounded out an attacking channel and had Alick Athanaze and Jason Holder caught in the cordon.

Josh Da Silva kept out a decent hat-trick delivery but succumbed to the next one, pushing forward and feathering through to give England’s new wicketkeeper Jamie Smith his first catch and Atkinson a place on the honours board.

A brilliant reaction catch from Pope did for Kavem Hodge – taking the score from 88 for three to 88 for seven in the space of eight balls.

Kraigg Brathwaite hits the ball onto his own stumps
Kraigg Brathwaite was bowled (Steven Paston/PA)

Atkinson greedily snapped up two more, Alzarri Joseph and Shamar Joseph both trying and failing to slog their way out of trouble, before Anderson finished things off by trapping Seales lbw.

The crowd sang his name as one but it was Atkinson who led the team from the field.

Seales returned fire when he had Ben Duckett caught behind for three but England stamped their authority with a stand of 94 between Crawley and Pope.

Both men survived big lbw appeals from Holder on their way to fifty, sharing 19 boundaries as they went.

Holder finally got a decision to go his way when he pinned Pope in front of leg stump and Seales yorked Crawley as he began to eye a century, leaving Joe Root and Brook in place at the close.

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