Gus Atkinson could make the step up to Test cricket soon

Cricket balls red white pink Edgbaston 2017 PA

Rising to prominence as a cricketer, especially a bowler, will often take time and a lot of patience and determination.

And Surrey bowler Gus Atkinson is a man who has been willing to travel that path. But, as a bowler, he’s got an attribute that has put him in fast-track mode: pace.

In the last twelve months, Atkinson, aged twenty-five, has seemingly risen to prominence and made a significant breakthrough for Surrey. And even though he only made five first-class appearances between debuting in 2020 up to the start of last summer, it’s pace that has been the driving force for the quicker progression seen in recent times.

Across 2022 alone, Atkinson made four first-class appearances, representing an 80% increase on the total he’d previously generated over two years. He also starred in six Vitality Blast matches, which opened the door for him to enjoy a stint with Desert Vipers in the ILT20 and Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League. Fast forward to this year, and June just gone, and Atkinson was thought to be in the running for a place in England’s Test squad with Ireland the opponents.

It could have proved to be the perfect introduction for the Surrey bowler, with England heavy favourites to win, according to the match betting on cricket, even if key men such as James Anderson and Ollie Robinson were missing. But Atkinson’s time will come, and everyone knows it, including Sir Alastair Cook, whom he managed to dismiss impressively on his first-class debut. In the eyes of some, Atkinson would have made it to where he is today sooner if not for multiple stress fractures in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, but he never stopped believing and working towards first-class cricket.

Cook would fall victim to Atkinson again, this time in May this year, with the pair on opposite sides as Surrey met Essex in the County Championship. The Surrey bowler would take a career-best 6-68, and this led to praise from Cook, who suggested that he was “impressed” with what he’d seen from Atkinson and that he felt “he has raw skills to be able to move the ball.” It was high praise indeed, and Cook isn’t the only one to have sung Atkinson’s praises of late.

Cook also referenced Mark Wood when commenting on Atkinson, but CricViz data suggests that Atkinson, that iconic searing pace that Wood is renowned for delivering, isn’t quite there just yet. It’s something for Atkinson to work towards in the future potentially, but right now, comparisons in terms of pace see him more in line with Chris Woakes, the man who will now step into the spotlight after it was vacated by Stuart Broad.

Others are comparing Atkinson with Jofra Archer, mainly for his bowling technique. But whatever happens, Atkinson is certainly a name worth remembering and one that many cricket fans who follow England won’t forget because he takes wickets at speed and has the skills that the Three Lions are undoubtedly looking for.