Watch: Michael Atherton gets hit, knocked over, and finally bounced out in brutal Courtney Walsh bouncer barrage
Watch: At Sabina Park in 1993/94, Courtney Walsh unleashed a brutal bouncer barrage before having Michael Atherton caught at short leg.
In 2013, Charles Davis, the venerable cricket statistician, published a list of bowlers who had forced most batters to retire hurt in Test cricket. With a count of eight, Walsh topped the list.
While he outlasted all of them and took more wickets in Test cricket than any of them, Walsh’s name seldom features in the list of most intimidating West Indian fast bowlers.
Fast bowlers like going after opposition captains, particularly when they are opening batters. In the 1990s, nobody faced the wrath of hostile pace bowlers more than Atherton, who fell to Glenn McGrath 19 times, and to Curtly Ambrose and Walsh 17 times each.
Appointed England captain less than a year before, Atherton was on his first overseas tour. Walsh, on his home ground at Sabina Park, decided to give him the full blast.
To their credit, Atherton (55) and Alec Stewart (70) weathered the storm, adding 121 for the opening stand before Kenny Benjamin (6-66) bowled England out for 234.
Brian Lara (83), Keith Arthurton (126), and Jimmy Adams (95 not out) then took the hosts to 407. And at 39-2, England were under pressure yet again.
Walsh had already bounced out Robin Smith, caught by Adams at short leg. He kept peppering Atherton with short-pitched balls over the course of an unchanged two-hour spell.
Atherton did well to get out of the way of some of these, but not all of them. Then Walsh switched to round the wicket and bowled a vicious bouncer at Atherton’s armpit. Unable to do anything about it, Atherton fended, and the ball lobbed to Adams at short-leg for 28.
Despite Graeme Hick’s 96, England were bowled out for 267 as Walsh finished with 3-67. His last wicket was of No.11 Devon Malcolm, whose ineptness with the bat did not prevent Walsh from launching an “undedifying assault”.
The West Indies went 1-0 up with an eight-wicket win.