Michael Atherton, born today, seemed destined for the top long before he made his England debut in the 1989 Ashes debacle. And though there was dirt in the pocket, buffoons, back problems and Ashes failure, Atherton's career had many highlights, most notably 643 minutes of brilliant, bloody-minded resistance in Johannesburg in 1995-96. But Atherton bore the brunt of captaining a modest team, which could not function if he did not make runs, and the fact that only one of his first ten Test hundreds came in victory speaks volumes. Only at the tail-end of his career - in Christchurch in 1996-97, and at The Ovaland in Karachi in 2000 - did Atherton get to savour some match-winning hundreds. He retired in typically understated fashion, at the end of another disappointing Ashes campaign, in 2001, and made a smooth transition into the commentary box.