Michael Atherton is a broadcaster, journalist and retired England international cricketer.
Educated at Cambridge, he became a right-handed opening batsman for Lancashire and England, and occasional leg-break bowler, he achieved the captaincy of England at the age of 25 and led the side in a record 54 Test matches. Known for his stubborn resistance during an era of hostile fast bowling, Atherton was described in 2001 as a determined defensive opener who made “batting look like trench warfare” and he had several famed bouts with bowlers including South Africa’s Allan Donald and Australia’s Glenn McGrath. Atherton often played the anchor role at a time when England batting performances lacked consistency and the side’s overseas results were mediocre.
He has actually captained England at all levels including full Test side. His rise through the Combined Universities team saw Mike capped for England before he was awarded his county cap. Mike is the youngest Lancastrian to score a Test century, and won great admiration for his handling of the media and his capacity as a leader in the young England side which toured the West Indies in 1994, and Australia and South Africa in 1995. The responsibilities of captaincy sat well with Mike, and his batting average rose from 34 to 57 and Mike formed the bedrock of England’s four successive Test series successes in 2000/2001 against South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. His playing career included some controversy, including an accusation of ball tampering, and several brushes with the media with whom, by his own admission, he did not have a good understanding when he was a player. Often hampered by a chronic back complaint which was to contribute to the end of his career
Mike retired from cricket at the end of the 2001 season. Since his retirement from the game, Mike has carved out a successful career in the media. He was a journalist for The Sunday Telegraph and succeeded Christopher Martin-Jenkins as The Times cricket correspondent on 1 May 2008. Between 2002 and 2005, he was a member of the Channel 4 commentary team for the coverage of Test cricket in England. During this period he also worked as a commentator for BBC Radio and Talksport on Test matches outside England. Atherton joined the Sky Sports commentary team in 2005, after they won the rights to live Test cricket in England. He commentates on all forms of the game, home and abroad, as well as covering some domestic matches. He often performs as the post-match master of ceremonies for internationals in England, presenting awards and interviewing players.
In 2002 he produced his autobiography: Opening Up. He has also written Gambling: A Story of Triumph and Disaster, published in 2006. In March 2010 he won Sports Journalist of the Year, at the British Press Awards. The judges announced this was “a unanimous choice”, praised the former England cricket captain for “tackling subjects way beyond cricket” and said “the brilliance of his writing shines.”
He was one of the commentators in 2011 Cricket World Cup. He has gained fame for his no nonsense but dryly humorous views on cricket.
Away from cricket Mike’s hobbies include golf (handicap of 8), travel, reading and the theatre
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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