Teenage son shows familiar mettle in 270-run stand for second wicket at Headingley
Josh de Caires, the son of former England captain Michael Atherton, scored an unbeaten hundred for Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities against Yorkshire on the third and final day of their pre-season warm-up at Headingley.
De Caires, 18, signed a three-year deal with Middlesex in August, having come through the club’s academy, and made his second XI bow for the county aged 15. However, he is yet to make his first-class debut, with university fixtures no longer accorded that status.
De Caires, who takes his mother’s maiden name, had been unbeaten on 94 at the close of the second day, after withstanding a bowling attack led by the England left-arm swing bowler, David Willey, and also featuring Ben Coad, Steven Patterson and Matt Fisher.
He duly brought up three figures early on the third morning, and after being caught off a no-ball for 103, he eventually retired for 118 from 292 balls, as the students recovered from the loss of an early wicket on the second day to declare on 382 for 9 – having at one stage been 302 for 2 – in reply to Yorkshire’s 485 for 5 declared.
Opener Taylor Cornall, 22, top-scored for Leeds/Bradford with 142 from 297 balls, and added 270 for the second wicket with de Caires – a stand that spanned 91 overs, to leave Yorkshire’s coach, Andrew Gale, to reflect on some hard toil for his bowlers.
“When they were 1 for 1, I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe we’ll bowl them out cheaply. But you have to give credit to the students,” Gale told the club website.
“Josh de Caires is someone who I’ve worked with in the England Under-19s set-up. I know he’s a good player. The other lad, Cornall, also batted nicely.
“They respected every ball, played within themselves and left really well.
“It’s a good reminder to us that when the sun’s out and the pitch is flat, how are we going to take 20 wickets? That’s the question I will be asking the lads.”
De Caires’ father, Atherton, played 115 Tests for England between 1989 and 2001, making 7,728 runs with 16 centuries, and 54 all told in first-class cricket.
However, Atherton rarely had much success at Headingley. He made a solitary hundred at the venue against Yorkshire, 129 for Lancashire in their 1995 Roses match, while his highest Test score on the ground was 99 against South Africa in 1994.