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    Atkinson discovers his passion after Lammonby's century sets up Somerset
Atkinson discovers his passion after Lammonby's century sets up Somerset
Tom Lammonby acknowledges his century. Source: Getty Images

Atkinson discovers his passion after Lammonby's century sets up Somerset

The challenge with exponential growth is the understanding that it is not sustainable. Following his rapid ascent in 2023, Gus Atkinson spent the initial three months of this year with England's Test squad in India, where he bowled in the nets, kicked footballs, and occasionally served drinks as an overqualified waiter.

Towards the end of the tour, he was withdrawn from the IPL, where he could have earned approximately £100,000 but was expected to spend two months on the Kolkata Knight Riders bench. As a result, Atkinson did not play his first match of 2024 until April 12. This was a surprise as he was instructed to rest by the ECB during Surrey's season opener against Lancashire.

Atkinson beat Matt Renshaw's outside edge with the third ball he bowled. He looked a little short of rhythm in his first two spells, as Renshaw and Tom Lammonby settled in either side of lunch. Atkinson finished the day with 3 for 57 from his 19 overs. He was instrumental in Surrey's fightback, taking advantage of Somerset's profligacy.

According to the speeds on Surrey's stream, Atkinson was a little down on pace in his first spell. This is understandable after so long without a competitive game. In England's December T20I series in the Caribbean, he bowled two overs without taking any wickets and conceded 33 runs. It seemed that his initial four months as an international cricketer had affected his performance.

During his first nine overs at The Oval, he failed to take any wickets. However, he made a significant impact between lunch and tea. In the third spell, he took the wicket of Tom Banton with the second ball, which was caught by Ben Foakes after hitting the inside edge of Banton's bat. This wicket was crucial as it reduced Somerset's score from 196 for 1 to 199 for 4.

Lammonby's anxiety to reach his seventh first-class hundred played a significant role in this. When he was on 99, he hit a drive to mid-on off Jamie Overton's delivery and stood mid-pitch as Jordan Clark fumbled. He rushed to the non-striker's end, but Renshaw was unable to make his ground, diving at full stretch, moments after Clark's accurate throw had dislodged the bails.

Lammonby is a talented player who caught England's attention when he scored centuries in three consecutive matches during the Bob Willis Trophy, at the age of 20. Since then, he has struggled to average even 30 in the last three Championship seasons and lost his place during Somerset's T20 Blast triumph last summer. However, he started the season with a new role at No. 3 and scored 90 at Kent.

In south London, he brought up his hundred off just 132 balls by working Overton into the leg side. His 16 boundaries included several crisp strikes down the ground and through the off side. He is unlikely to face such strong seam attacks for the remainder of the season. Even in mid-April, it feels like a summer of progress.

However, after falling to Clark and being pinned on the back pad, Somerset's performance deteriorated. Due to the absence of Tom Abell (hamstring) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (IPL), their middle-order lacked depth, which was evident. Lewis Goldsworthy, who batted at No. 4, appeared out of place and was dismissed after edging Cameron Steel's legspin to slip, following a short-ball barrage.

Atkinson was in good form and bowled three consecutive balls across James Rew, who scored five hundreds last season, a feat that was unmatched in Division One. The first two deliveries narrowly beat his outside edge, but the third, which hung wider outside his off stump, induced an edge. His next delivery was a sharp short ball that beat Kasey Aldridge for pace and ballooned up to slip off the shoulder of his bat.

Rob Key recently mentioned Atkinson as one of the young seamers who could take England's Test team forward, following an overreliance on experienced seamers. Atkinson's name may be discussed for the T20 World Cup, but he may be kept on the sidelines until the Test summer starts in July.

Somerset lost six wickets for 15 runs when Craig Overton was deceived by Steel's drift. Lewis Gregory's 50 helped them recover and reach a total of 285. Shoaib Bashir contributed 10 not out to a last-wicket stand worth 49. He missed out last week but was at least playing this time. Spinners often struggle in April, but Steel has taken nine wickets this season at a cost of just 75 runs.

Surrey's openers reduced the deficit by 42 before the close. Dom Sibley broke character and hit six powerful boundaries in the evening session. He had started the day by taking an astonishing catch at slip. Sean Dickson edged to Overton, but Sibley watched the rebound land on his right boot before catching it inches from the ground.

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