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On This Day In 1998: Twenty Four Years On, Atherton Vs Donald is Still a Test Duel to Remember

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Last Updated: July 26, 2022, 07:30 IST

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The battle between Atherton and Donald was nothing short of a heavyweight bout between two boxers (Image: Screengrab/Ban Live Export)

The battle between Atherton and Donald was nothing short of a heavyweight bout between two boxers (Image: Screengrab/Ban Live Export)

The battle between Michael Atherton and Allan Donald at Trent Bridge was nothing short of a heavyweight bout between two boxers

ON THIS DAY IN 1998: On this day in 1998, Test cricket witnessed a more equal contest at Trent Bridge when probably one of the best among fast bowlers in the world, Allan Donald, and one of the best opening batsmen, Mike Atherton faced off. It was also quite comfortably the most thrilling passage of play between England and South Africa that year.

The visitors were leading the four-Test series 1-0 and Hansie Cronje’s ton had led the Proteas to a good total of 374. The hosts replied with 336, Atherton making 58 before being dismissed by Donald, who went on to take five wickets. However, Angus Fraser’s fiery spell of 5/62, supported by Dominic Cork’s 4/6, helped the home side dismiss the visiting team for a paltry total of 208. Chasing 247 to win, Atherton scored a battling 98 from 277 balls to guide England to a series-levelling victory.

However, the battle between Atherton and Donald was nothing short of a heavyweight bout between two boxers. Both were at the peak of their prowess, and when the ‘White Lightning’, as Donald is known, bowled a fiery quick one from around and had Atherton out on 27. The bouncer was aimed at Atherton’s neck and the batsman took evasive action, but Donald’s delivery had him gloving the wicket to Mark Boucher.

However, much to Donald’s annoyance, the umpire didn’t spot it and remained unmoved. Both cricketers stared at each other, with Atherton deciding not to be the first to break eye contact. Meanwhile, the call fired him up and the batsmen would see nothing on their half side of the pitch. Donald had England jumping to his tunes and was constantly throwing words at the batsmen too. Atherton and partner Nasser Hussain were struck on the body several times as Donald steamed furiously.

Soon after nearly dismissing Atherton, bad luck followed the fast bowler as Boucher spilled a catch offered by Hussain. An infuriated Donald gave it his all, but a wicket eluded him. However, Atherton survived the onslaught and remained unbeaten on 98 and England stayed alive in the series that they would later go on to win.

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first published:July 26, 2022, 07:30 IST
last updated:July 26, 2022, 07:30 IST