An interview with Mike Atherton
Mike Atherton talks England's last Test defeat in Manchester
Former England captain and Lancashire opener Mike Atherton was part of the last England team that tasted defeat at the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club in 2001.
In what was a high scoring contest, Pakistan – who will be visiting Emirates Old Trafford for the second Investec Test that gets underway on Friday 22 July – edged out Alec Stewart’s men by 108 runs.
He recalled: “I remember how well Pakistan bowled in the final part of the match. They were always a team to be worried about when they got a sniff and I recall that quite a few wickets fell to no balls that were not called, including my own!”
Pakistan boasted arguably two of the best fast bowlers in Wasim Akram and Waqir Younis during that match.
He added: “Both were great bowlers and very destructive especially with the old ball. Wasim was probably the most skilled fast bowler of his generation.”
15 years later and England have yet to experience a Test match reverse in Manchester.
And Atherton, who played in 115 Tests for his country, is not surprised that England have sustained their undefeated record.
He said: “It has been a pretty successful period of English cricket and we are generally hard to beat at home. Good teams would enjoy playing at Old Trafford because the pitch offers a fair contest between bat and ball.”
Although he fancies the hosts to maintain their invincibility, he thinks Pakistan’s bowling attack will pose one or two problems.
“I think England will be too strong at home, but Pakistan’s bowling attack is dangerous so you can’t rule them out,” he added.
Atherton has fond memories of representing his country on his home patch.
“I was lucky enough to score two Test hundreds here – against New Zealand and India. They are very special memories.”
Another homegrown cricketer, James Anderson, will be leading the line for England bowling attached for the forthcoming Test.
And Atherton believes his fellow Lancastrian is the most talented English bowler in recent times.
He said: “James is a brilliant bowler - the most skilled English bowler I have seen. It has been a joy to watch him achieve all that he has and he will probably go down as Lancashire’s finest international cricketer.”
England v Pakistan Second Investec Test
Want to watch England cricket in Manchester? Buy tickets for the Second Investec Test match where England face Pakistan from Friday 22 - Tuesday 26 July. Will England hold onto their long-standing record?