CricInfo Interactive Player of the Month

February 1997: Mike Atherton

Our Player of the Month for February carried for many years the tag of "FEC", standing for the Future England Captain he seemed destined to become. In 1993 the call to become "CEC" (Current England Captain) arrived. Over the past few months, however, there have many who would like him to become XEC as soon as possible...

Poor personal showings at opening bat and some dreadful team efforts (by England's historical standards) in Zimbabwe and the early stages of the New Zealand tour had this player's position both as captain and Test player on the line. Following the Wellington Test on February 10, England had won just one of their four Tests on tour and had let two others slip miserably from their grasp. England's already dismal reputation had one more Test match outing to endure, at Lancaster Park, Christchurch.

Our player bravely carried his bat for 94 not out in England's first innings as all around him passed cheaply and his side registered a first innings deficit of 118. A fightback by England's bowlers gave them a winning target of 305, something they had not achieved since Bradman was a boy (well, twenty years old, anyway). But achieve it, England did, with a captain's knock of 118 leading the way. Personal match figures of 212 runs for once out in 744 minutes at the crease. A match that England, on the basis of precedent, should never have won, giving them a 2-0 record in six Tests on tour, and so close to 4-0.

England have saved some face internationally and the CEC has saved his job for a little while longer...

The second former Lancashire captain to win the googler's Player of the Month in the past four months, our February 1997 award goes to Michael Andrew Atherton.

Highlights of Atherton's February:
94* (carrying the bat) and 118 in Third Test v New Zealand at Christchurch, February 14-18.
match reports of the Third Test.
Also at the googler's:

Atherton back in favour - sambo, Feb 19

Captains under fire - sambo, Jan 9

and in the CricInfo database:

CricInfo database's Mike Atherton page

Previous Players of the Month | The good, the bad and the ugly of February.

Our forum question was: "Where would England be without Mike Atherton?"

Thanks to all who have participated in this forum! Your replies:

Date: Thu, 06 Mar 1997 21:28:13

One thing is for certain, Athertons ability with the bat is not a flash in the pan! He is Englands most able test batsman, against all types of bowling, and probably the best opening batsman in the world. His quiet leadership style is out of favour with the British tabloids, but that is no bad thing.

His batting and judgement has been an inspiration for his team - you only have to look at the way Cork came out to bowl at New Zealand, with a deficit of 118, where he took a wicket with his fourth delivery. The Ashes will depend on Atherton and his batting, for the Aussies he is still the key wicket.

Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 10:25:37
Message from (Rajesh Bawa)
A captain's effort since a long time (SA 178 *). Well I still doubt greatly his abilities to get best out of the 10 guys around him! Well, he's done this time and really winder what will happen after the gruing summer in England! I still wish English team good luck against Aussies especially after them drubbing SA by an innings and 196 odd runs and that too home!
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 08:19:07
Message from (b s jayawardene )
Obviously, at the bottom of the test rankings. But, he is doing a better job of leading a group of gentelmen rather than leading a herd of sledgers and claming to be the best test nation.
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 97 13:28
Message from (Dheeraj Kumar)
If Mike Atherton would not be there then England would not be the good cricket team. Now England is in the 4 position of the Ceat Cricker Rating, if he would not be there the position would at 9. His carrer in the cricket team is very good. Some matches he had played superbly and some matches he had done very badly. In my opinion he should be playing cricket for some more years and create a record of highesr score in ODI and Test matches. I hope best wishes to him.
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 07:13:07
Message from (Gert Kruger)
Does wonders for the England team..... Such a gracefull loser and a charming manner when under pressure from an opposing team. Keep him.
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 07:12:36
Message from (MAtt)
I don't think he has got a good relationship with his fellow team mates.
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 04:28:16
Message from dravid@hotmail (JK Sekhar)
Thanks to the efforts of Atherton England won the series 2-O. With this win England deserve to stay above NZ in the rankings. Should the Sri Lankans beat NZ more convincingly than the English then we will see SL rise above England and NZ falling to last place after Zimbabwe! Atherton is a good player, they best opener England has seen since Gooch but he is definitely not in the same class as Tendulkar,Lara,Steve Waugh,Mark Waugh, Saeed Anwar or Kirsten. He should play better against the Aussies to prove that his current form is not a flash in the pan!
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 19:24:59
Message from (joost helberg)
with the aussies at the top
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 22:30:06
Message from (Javed Hason)
England just lack a competitive spirit. They are no less talented than before. Unfortunately, Atherton exemplifies it. His body language reflects a laissez-faire attitude. Its no good merely trying to look tough by not congratulating opposing batsmen.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 19:12:08
Message from (cathy)
Bring back Graeme Hick!!
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 17:41:15
Message from (Lloyd Noronha)
Mike Artherton is definitely the most valuable player in the England team. However he has not been able to inculcate seriousness & a sense of application in the team. Although he has been the captain for long enough, the team performance remains the same, with occasional jumps between wins & shameful losses. Infact over the period of time the only consistently commendable performance comes from the captain, which definitely emphasises the fact that he should continue as a batsman, but not as a captain.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 16:43:05
Message from (Mark Weare)

Isnt the real question that needs to be addressed by the old fogies of the English and Welsh Cricket Board is the allround state of English/Welsh(???) cricket? Surely not even the most rational cricket fan can lay the blame on one person!!! This winters tour of Zimbabwe and New Zealand can only highlight the lack of any decent medium pace swing bowlers. I can seriously see the Aussies hitting 400 runs per innings when they tour later this year - they got 600+ today against Allan Donald in SA!!!

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 16:30:34
Message from (Pethers)
A solid bloke with a mental toughness lie iron. Never put off by cheap tabloid ramblings and not one also to gloat in glory. Well respected by other players he is the man with the record and qualities to lead England for a lot longer with his solid and mature attitude for a young man. Oh Captain my captain.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 15:56:37
Message from (Hasanthi Gooneratne)

I don't think that England would be any worse off if Mike Atherton resigned as England captain. Whilst he is a courageous player who has been invaluable to England on several occaisions, I think that there are more suitable people who want to play for England for a long time to come and will lead with inspiration and enthusiasm,even when things aren't going too great. With Mike, when things are good he is a great guy, but when things are going wrong he loses all ability to motivate.

I say, well done Mike you got great character to come through a tough time as you had this summer, but give Alec or Nasser the job for the Ashes.

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 14:22:14
Message from (Swamy)
Without Mike, England would be among the top test playing teams in the world...... and in fact, they would be very well off without him...
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 12:55:17
Message from (Sam)
Without Mike, England would be good contenders for the World Cup! He's Pathetic.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 11:51:41
Message from (Karen Davidson)
England would be a sporting,friendlier side without sore loser Atherton at the helm. His rude comments about our Zimbabwean team when we beat Englande in Dec/Jan were in very poor taste and showed him as the true bad sportsman he has been labled with. England should dump him and save face!!!
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 10:53:09
Message from (Richard Kayes)
Good on you Mike Atherton on your fight back to some form for yourself and England's good fortune .Your example is What NZ's captain (Lee Germon) needs to do to get NZ Cricket out of the dumps.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 10:33:16
Message from (Vishal Agarwal)
England are going through a bad patch these days.. Mike Atherton is a good Batsman. I think he's certainly in the top-ten batsmen of the world list (topped by Sachin Tendulkar). Wish him all the best!
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 10:01:36
Message from (Gordo)
They are so crap that Zimbabwe can beat them. Without Atherton, they wouldn't be able to beat Hong Kong, if they even play cricket.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 09:13:45
Message from (Linus Fernandes)
Atherton's one of the best openers in the world presently. But he's definitely not one of the best captains. I feel that Alec Stewart would be a much better skipper.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 08:43:53
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 08:06:17
Message from (Jacek)
With or without him, England doesn't deserve to be a test nation. But a different captain would at least accept defeat sportingly.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:51:11
Message from (Gareth Burns)
Where are they with him ?? England has toured ZIM & NZ, in my opinion the weakest Test teams in the world, to salvage some pride. And they have barely done that ! Atherton may be a good batsmen, but me remains a ball-tamperer (remember the SA tour of England in '94). If the purists in his homeland had their way, he wouldn't be playing today.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:48:03
Message from (M.Shanmugam)
Without Atherton, England would have well rated below Zimbabwe and New Zealand in the list of test cricket playing nations. He surely is the best player to lead England. Before naming him as XEC, the critics should not forget his heroics in the Johannesburg test against South Africa in 1995 and his captain's knock that fetched him 212 runs altogether in the recently concluded third test match against New Zealand. Only few in the current England team can match his guts to save or win a test match single handedly. Just think of any other player other than Atherton to lead England and you will end up in a mess. Atherton totally deserves this award and hats off to him and his England team.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:47:44
Message from (pete roberts)
Below both new zealand and zimbabwe on the current world rankings !!!
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:36:23
Message from (Cyrille Viossat)
Probably much higher. He gets them out of trouble only he has raised. He's a dreadful captain. Have a look at all the other sides (perhaps apart from NZ), they'll always get out to win. Atherton seems to talk about unprecedented achievement every time he gets a draw. By the way, don't you remember when he said he'd resign as captain just after the Ashes? He might have been fired had he not said that, but now he seems to be changing his mind. Not very sincere Mike?
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 06:44:05
Message from (Robert Mann)
Rather like where the Titanic would have been with a few extra lifeboats. All that would change is the magnitude of the disaster.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 05:15:14
Message from (RAJA AJIZ)
Without him English cricket will be much better then now
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 03:01:32
Message from BONDY@OIS.COM.AU (JOSH)
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 01:38:57
Message from (Dwayne Fernandez)
In a even more difficult position than they are in now. I do think they are rebuilding a team, they are finally sticking with players, players who despite the critics, have talent (Mike, Stewart, Thorpe, Hussain, Cork), this has been showed by results on occasion. Those that come to mind include winning at Barbados (the first team in decades to do so) and chasing 305 to win against New Zealand. What England needs, is to be more consistant, work on their bowling attack (their weak spot), have the critics to give them a chance and hopefully Mike is the man to lead them and change their fortunes ...
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 00:40:08
Message from (Chalapalli Naga Ramesh)
Without the effort of Arthton I would say, Engaland might have lost the match easily. This is something like Azar's performance in the Third test Against S.A in India that made India win the match.
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 00:26:09
Message from (Vinodev Eleazar)
England is the most under-rated team in the world and Mike Atherton is the most under-rated batsman.With the likes of Mike,Thorpe,Alec and Gough around,England can go a long way.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 15:39:42
Message from (George Peterson)
They would be in a better position then they are right now that is for sure
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 23:30:20
Message from (Glenn Finkelde)
In the same deep hole they are in at the moment
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 22:33:44
Message from (ALI KIDWAI)
Mike Atherton, indeed a good cricketer, marvelous stroke-player. But he is not at all a good captain. He was never able to control the team. I think England should have a new captain. possibly an allrounder.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 13:38:14
Message from (VINAY GURUNG)
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 10:38:11
Message from (Jitha Mithra)
Without Atherton,well,England will be nothing as he is a a very good captain and a talented opener.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 08:54:31
Message from (Gurdip Shergill)
A much happier and worse side. Bangladesh would find no trouble in beating them. We shouldn't praise Athers too much, after all he's a Man U fan!!!!!
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 06:34:33
Message from (Sharat)
In BIG trouble, to say the least.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 06:33:38
Message from (shiva kabra)
where they are right now. i mean come on lets face it, beating new zealand and getting thrashed by zimbawe is not a great acheivement. he is a decent bat though, the best england have after stewart and thorpe. i just think the english team sucks
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 06:00:00
Message from (P.Dhashina Moorthy)
England might get another opening batsman to replace Mike but they will not get a Natural Leader like him.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 02:19:17
Message from (Paul Grace)
Bring on the Ashes Tour... lets see how Mike is then...
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 00:38:38
Message from (Barrie Street)
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 22:49:48
Message from (Aarij Syed Wasti )
Where would England be without Mike? I'll tell you. Behind New Zealand as well. I mean they're already the 8th "best" team in the world behind number 7, Zimbabwe. Mike actually is a player with immense talent but a cricketer who was born in the wrong country at the wrong time. England sucks. Period. Too bad he wasn't born a Pakistani!
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 20:54:03
Message from (Tim Kennedy)
England, although I think Australia would beat England even if they had Atherton, but they could still beat New Zealand.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 20:22:43
Message from (C Bentham)
Mike`s one of the best opening batsman in the world at the present time. If was not in the England team it would be a big ask for anyone to fill his shoes.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 18:26:13
Message from (Liaquat Ali Tejani)
With or without Mike Atherton, England can't go any further unless there is change at the Head quarters.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 16:46:16
Message from (Daran Soondarsingh)
Without Mike Atherton, England`s hopes of winning any Tests would be virtually impossible. The man is as solid as a rock when it comes to doing his job. He has the unpleasant distinction of having to face the opposing country`s best new-ball bowlers. He is usually instramental in England`s batting performance. Withouit him England are nothing. Being from Trinidad, I usually don`t like to see West Indian bowlers being beaten by batsmen, but on the 1994 tour of the Caribbean I had to have respect for Mike. He along with Alec Stewart won many Carribean haerts. They are the two best openers in the world.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 16:57:48
Message from (Lindsay Tobin)
I don't know about England, but every other country would be better of if England did not have Mike Atherton. He's a very good opener for sure
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 16:36:27
Message from (B.N.Ravi chandra)
I think that Atherton is the back bone of the English batting line-up.We have seen him rescue his team during their tour of South Africa.He was in cracking form that season and saved his team from loss by batting for long periods of time defying the dangerous South African attack.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 13:39:19
Message from (Wilfred Diepeveen)
We don't know if the game would improve but we think the team would look happier, because Mike Atherton don't smile a lot.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 13:15:41
Message from (Anand Patil)
He is one of the consistant batsman of the world. Of course he is backbone of England cricket team as far as batting is concerned. But only thing he is lacking is the captainship qualities. But it will take time.But i cannot expect the England team without him that is sure.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 12:53:31
Message from (Murali Krishna)
Out in the dumps.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 12:06:01
Message from (Anantha Padmanabhan K)
Well no doubt without Mike, as usual, England would have hit the very rock bottom of test rating
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 11:18:57
Message from (Ian Lane)
In a better place...
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 09:51:31
Message from (Shane Duffy)
Well, you can't get any worse than England are now!! Go you Aussies!
Ashes 6-0
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 09:32:40
Message from (siddharth)
I think without mike England would be no where. I think his is one of the worlds finest opening batsmen. He is great fighter and proved it by saving the Test match against RSA.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 06:57:56
Message from (NIRAV MEHTA)
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 06:10:40
Message from (Jacques)
England would maybe the world champions without Atherton
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 03:42:28
Message from (MArk Donaldson)
  • A better one-day side.
  • A more dynamic side
  • A side with personality
  • Better comments
  • More humour
  • And I haven't started on David Lloyd yet!

    - How about where is NZ cricket without Glenn Turner?

    Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 03:28:51
    Message from (Rit Chandra)
    Getting trounced by Zimbabwe. After all, apart from Alec Stewart, he's definately the best - rough patch or no rough patch.
    Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 02:24:25
    Message from (V.Balasubrahmanyam)
    First let me congratulate you on your choice -- the most right one!! Ya, it's true that without Atherton's gallant display of batsmanship England would have been dumped once again. Already his critics were calling for his head and he came out at the right time and in the right way to silence them. So hats off to him and those who selected him as the player of this month!! Hope to see more such performances from Atherton and his team!!!
    Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 02:07:14
    Message from (niki)
    Nowhere..... even though Athers needs a major change in his attitude, English cricket needs him . It is his leadership that makes a difference to the English attack and team .
    letters to the editor: email

    About CI Interactive | Email to | StampIt Footer -->
    Date-stamped : 13 Apr1998 - 18:39