Most batsmen are champions of their trade and largely remain non-threatening with the ball in hand. However, in unexpected moments of inspiration, they do conjure a dismissal with their limited skill. One such rare bowling accomplishment occurred on this day, 25 years ago, when former England skipper Michael Atherton picked up the second of his only two Tests wickets.
During Pakistan’s tour of England and Scotland in 1996, the visitors had a 1-0 lead in the Test series. Going into the second Test at Leeds, Pakistan piled up 448-runs with the help of Ijaz Ahmed (141 off 201 balls) and wicketkeeper-batsman Moin Khan (105 off 191 balls) in their first innings. In reply, opener Alec Stewart composed 170 off 315 balls, while Nick Knight’s late 113 (off 176 balls) helped the hosts to post 501 runs in their first essay, a lead of 53 runs.
On the final day with time running out to push for a win, England quickly sent back the Pakistani opening pair of Shadab Kabir (2) and Anwar (22), to leave the score on a shaky 34-2. Thereafter, 50 plus scores from Ijaz Ahmed (52) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (65) placed Pakistan to safety as they reached 242-7 by stumps. Andy Caddick (3/52) was the hosts’ best bowler but the main talking point was skipper Atherton taking his second Test wicket.
He got the better of his counterpart Wasim Akram, who padded away a leg-break to give his Lancashire colleague his only second Test wicket. 50 Tests and six years separated the English cricketer from his first Test scalp which he had taken in 1991 after he caught and bowled Dilip Vengsarkar at The Oval in 1991. The same year, Atherton had to give up bowling after a surgery for his chronic back pain. Nevertheless, he landed the majority of his loopy leggies to bag two Test wickets.
However, due to inclement weather and bouts of bad light the match ended in a draw.
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