Atherton Slips on 99: One of the Most Painful Runouts in Cricket

The Lord’s Cricket Ground, also known as the ‘Mecca of Cricket’, honours the heroes of the game by engraving their name on the board hanging in the dressing rooms. They call it the ‘Lord’s Honours Board‘. Players consider it a great achievement to be named on the honours boards of the Lord’s. The honours board commemorates the players who have scored a century, taken 5 wickets in an innings, or 10 wickets in a match. To be on this board is a matter of prestige for every player representing his/her country at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

While Graham Gooch and Michael Vaughan have made it 6 times each on the honours board, Ian Botham tops the list 8 times. Stalwarts like Sachin, Akram, Warne and Ambrose have never made it on the honours board.

Mike Meets Tragedy

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A man in China bought 64 Apple iPhones, arranged them in a heart shape on Valentine’s Day, and proposed to a girl and got a big rejection in the form of a ‘No’ at the end. Disheartening, right? Some ‘Nos’ are more painful than the above-mentioned one. In the 1993 Ashes series, Australia had trounced England in the first match. Mike Gatting became the eye of the match and continues to be associated with the vicious delivery he faced, which came to be known as the ‘Ball of the Century‘.

In the second Test at Lord’s, the Aussies posted a mammoth total of 634 and bowled out England cheaply. Mike Gatting who had bamboozled a match earlier, balanced the score with Mike Atherton after Gooch fell. Atherton who had scored gritty 80 runs in the first innings, was reluctant in playing bad shots.

Atherton Slips

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The score was past 170, Border placed a defensive field to stop singles. Merv Hughes, a rotund figure, was enjoying his banter with crowds at square leg. Mike hit one to the square leg at Merv, who ran like a cartwheel, picked the ball, gasped his breathe and threw swiftly at Healy. It’s that simple, right? No, it isn’t. Mike ran like a bullet for two runs, completed it, looked at Gatting and ran for third, that’s when Gatting denied him the run, Mike slipped twice and before he could get up, Healy had whipped the bails and uprooted the stumps.

Oh, tragedy, tragedy…” said commentator, Tony Lewis, “Those few yards are going to live with him forever staring at a century and staring at his own demise.

Painful Run-Out Memories

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The valiant resistance of Mike Atherton ended in the most disheartening way. Atherton was run out on 99. Atherton was keen to score a century and get his name on the honours boards. And he didn’t even reach close in the matches later.

“Mike hit it in front of square and Merv ran around. In Mike’s mind there was a three and he went like a train, but I was late leaving my end. There was no way I could get to the other end so I said no. He went back but slipped and then slipped again. I watched on in horror. It’s never good to run someone out but we were trying to save the match, and I was hugely disappointed he then never made a hundred at Lord’s.”

Mike Gatting recollects the Atherton run-out

“Mike Gatting called me for the run that would have brought up my 100, then sent me back, I slipped and was yards short when Ian Healy broke the stumps. I was desperate to get a century, to get on the Lord’s honors board and desperate to help England save a Test.”

Atherton’s statement on Gatting’s Call

England lost the match by innings and 62 runs. Two Tests later, Atherton was made the captain. The series was already lost but Mike led his team to victory at The Oval. Atherton’s 99 at Lord’s is counted as one of the most painful run-outs in cricket history.

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