Compton shows his value to keep Somerset afloat
Somerset 147 and 127 for 4 (Compton 61*) lead Warwickshire 243 by 31 runs
When the good people of Somerset come to renew their county memberships it is, no doubt, largely in the hope of watching the likes of Trescothick and Trego, Hildreth and Buttler, Kieswetter and Gayle. Each one of them is an exciting stroke maker and the sort of player that marketing types refer to as 'box office'.
For all their style, though, Somerset are so often grateful for the substance of Nick Compton. Here, as so often before, he provided foundations for an innings that could so easily have faltered. Somerset are still on the back foot in this game, but without Compton's defiance, Warwickshire might have won already.
That is not to say that Compton is an unattractive player. But, while several of his colleagues are liable to make Somerset followers gasp - and not always for the right reasons - Compton allows them to relax. Last year he averaged 56.11 in the Championship and was the only man at the club apart from Trescothick to pass 1,000 runs. In a team full of Sehwags, he is the Trott.
Compton is in golden form at present. Having scored a century in a pre-season warm-up game against Glamorgan, he made a double century against Cardiff MCCU followed by 99 in the first Championship match against Middlesex. Here, taking advantage of improving batting conditions, he was watchful in defence, accumulated patiently and put away the bad ball without fuss. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But nobody else on either side has managed it with such calm assurance.
Neither side have taken their opportunities in this game. Having bowled out Somerset cheaply, Warwickshire, resuming 36 behind and with seven wickets in hand, were unable to take their chance to establish a dominant position. Varun Chopra, who received his county cap on the first day and was watched by national selector Geoff Miller on the second, never settled and edged an outswinger to slip, while the middle-order's attempt to be positive backfired. Miller cannot have been overly impressed by the Craig Kieswetter's tally of 17 byes, either.
Somerset had chances, too. Had Steve Kirby, in his follow through, been able to retain his footing, then he would surely have held on to the simplest of return catches to dismiss Keith Barker for 20 and limit Warwickshire's lead to 61. As it was, Barker and Chris Wright eked out 47 runs for Warwickshire's tenth wicket and extended the lead to 96 runs. It could yet prove vital.
Then, just as Arul Suppiah and Compton were establishing a dominant position in a second-wicket stand of 86 - easily the highest of the game - they suffered a mix-up that resulted in both of them standing at the same end. Trescothick was undone once again by Barker's swing and Hildreth was beaten by a beauty from Neil Carter, bowling around the wicket, that held its own and hit middle stump.
As the conditions eased, though, Somerset settled. Compton, driving sweetly and cutting nicely, became the first man in the game to register a half-century. Warwickshire's bowlers, failing to adapt to the altering conditions, conceded runs as they strove for the magic ball, allowing Compton to reach the milestone from just 61 deliveries. More importantly, Compton negated the movement by leaving well and displaying a compact, straight technique. They are not, perhaps, the most marketable qualities, but from Somerset's perspective they are highly valuable.
There is still plenty in this pitch for the bowlers. Jeetan Patel, finding sharp turn, bowled Kieswetter through the gate in the dying minutes of the game to suggest that, with a lead of 200 and George Dockrell in their side, Somerset could yet win this game.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo