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Eng is obsessed with Tests: Atherton

"We have always treated the one-day game as the poor relation of Test cricket, analysed the former England skipper.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 19:15 IST

Michael Atherton has blamed England's obsession with Test cricket for the team's continued poor show in one-dayers.

"England have always treated the one-day game as the poor relation of Test cricket," he said while analysing the country's general apathy to one-day game and its disastrous performance in the seven-match series against India.

"It is not that England's players try less hard to win one-day matches, but, through no fault of their own, through a process of osmosis the attitude that it doesn't matter as much if you lose has seeped in," he wrote in his column in The Sunday Telegraph.

While stating that the "one-day series has become the most one-sided since the Christians were thrown to the lions", Atherton gave some leeway to England who have been ravaged by injuries on the current tour.

"The aftermath of the Mumbai Test match was similar to most other tours in recent history. Rightly, the players celebrated their achievement long and hard, took a couple of days to recuperate before scanning the one-day itinerary and wishing the next three weeks of their life away.

"One or two 'specialists' headed home thanking their lucky stars. Other 'specialists', who had spent some time acclimatising to conditions while being made to feel alienated from the Test squad, joined up. As ever, some looked for excuses to travel home. Some did."

Atherton criticised Andrew Flintoff's trip home to see his new-born between the Tests and one-dayers.

"(Flintoff's trip) meant that the one-day squad began their preparations without their captain and most important player. Reports filtered through that England's best one-day batsman was preparing for the new season in the nets at Taunton."

Atherton said it was ingrained in players since the beginning that Test cricket was the real thing.

"The coaching, the talk, the tactics all centred on trying to produce Test match batsmen. And so, by and large, England produced stiff-wristed, technically sound, low-intensity players... When I became an England player myself, the administrators confirmed the low esteem in which one-day cricket was held."

When England's selectors choose their captain, he said, "they do so with Test match cricket in mind. In handing the job to Michael Vaughan, Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain and myself - all players with only moderate to OK one-day records - was the potential problem of one-day cricket ever discussed? I doubt it."

Citing Flintoff's example, he said: "when, the night before a one-day international, Andrew Flintoff stayed up into the early hours of the morning to receive his Sports Personality of the Year Award, there was scarcely a whisper about his professionalism, or lack of it.

"I can't imagine he would have stayed up so late the night before a Test match," he said.

First Published: Apr 10, 2006 10:56 IST