On his way: England's Gus Atkinson celebrates after dismissing West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, his maiden wicket in a debut haul of 7-45 in the first Test at Lord's

London (AFP) - England fast bowler Gus Atkinson enjoyed a fairytale start to his Test career at Lord’s after being told by his father to prepare for “the biggest day of your life”.

The Surrey paceman returned stunning figures of 7-45 on the opening day of the first Test against the West Indies as he eclipsed England great James Anderson, who only managed a solitary wicket Wednesday in what is the 41-year-old veteran’s 188th and last Test before retirement.

Atkinson’s stunning return was chiefly responsible for the West Indies being dismissed for just 121, with attacking fifties from Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57) then strengthening England’s advantage as the hosts reached stumps on 189-3, a lead of 68 runs.

The 26-year-old Atkinson had a dream debut, removing West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite with just his second ball and later taking three wickets in one extraordinary over after lunch.

Among those cheering him on was his father Ed, who may have inadvertently added to the pressure his son already felt ahead of a landmark match in his cricket career.

“I was a bit nervous this morning, I woke up and all I could think about was the day ahead. I was emotional,” Atkinson told reporters after stumps.

“I tried to keep as level as possible but my Dad was saying ‘This is the biggest day of your life’. I just said ‘Relax! I’m trying not to think like that!’.”

- ‘Pretty cool’ -

Atkinson added: “He’s a big cricket fan, so to make him proud and make my family proud is very special.

“Walking through the Long Room at the end and seeing him there was pretty cool. If you could ask me what I want in a day, that would be pretty close to the top.”

Atkinson’s remarkable return was just shy of being the best by an England bowler on Test debut, with Dominic Cork taking 7-43 against the West Indies, also at Lord’s, in 1995.

He was also the fifth England debutant to take five wickets in a Test innings during Ben Stokes’ two-year reign as captain.

“I’m very proud but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet to be honest,” said Atkinson. “I was just looking up at the honours board looking at my figures thinking ‘wow’. It was a very special day.”

Anderson came into this match having already taken the most wickets by any fast bowler in Test history, a tally that now stands at 701, with only spinners Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800) ahead of him in the all-time standings.

“All the focus was on Jimmy so it was quite nice to go under the radar a little bit and focus on performing as well as I could,” said Atkinson.

“To be out there alongside Jimmy in his final Test was incredible, being there with Jimmy leading us on the pitch was a pretty surreal moment.

“Ben just said to me ‘Go out and do your thing’ and that was it. If you speak to someone too much, a bit of pressure can start to kick in.”