Compton ton gives England Ashes boost
Somerset 336 for 5 (Compton 139*) v Durham
Nick Compton produced the perfect response to his critics with a century for Somerset on the opening day of their Championship match against Durham. Instructed by the England coach, Andy Flower, to go away and get back into some form on the county circuit, the 29-year-old opener hit 139 not out, including 15 fours and a six, to lead his side to a total of 336 for 5 in perfect batting conditions and enhance his claims to a place in the Ashes.
Marcus Trescothick and Arul Suppiah both contributed 36, while Dean Elgar (33) and James Hildreth (32) also got out when apparently well set. Graham Onions was the pick of the Durham attack with two for 43 off 18 overs.
But it was Compton's day. After a sketchy start that saw him score only 23 from 87 balls before lunch, he blossomed in the afternoon session to reach a four-hour hundred off 203 balls. He was given one life on 53 when Paul Collingwood dropped a sharp catch at slip off the bowling of young offspinner Ryan Buckley.
By then the shackles seemed to have been removed. Compton brought up his half-century off 129 balls with a four and a straight six off successive balls from Buckley and began to look as though he was enjoying his batting again. The second fifty was far more fluent, occupying 74 deliveries. A misfield by Mark Stoneman at mid-off brought Compton his 12th four and the coveted three figures, greeted with a hug from partner Hildreth and warm applause from Somerset supporters.
They had good cause to be grateful as none of the other top order batsmen could match Compton's powers of concentration. Trescothick had breezed to 36 when driving at a very wide ball from Onions and edging a catch to second slip.
It was 82 for 1 at lunch and 50 more had been added when the accurate Onions struck again, bowling Suppiah middle and leg stump. Tea was taken at 212 for 3 and straight after the interval Elgar had a wild slog at Will Smith to surrender his wicket, also clean bowled. When Hildreth also moved sweetly into the thirties only to fall lbw playing a across a full ball from Buckley, Somerset were in danger of failing to capitalise on what seemed almost ideal batting conditions.
Alex Barrow looked confident enough in moving to 25 before falling victim to the second new ball as his stumps were rearranged by Mark Wood to make it 307 for 5. Peter Trego kept Compton company until the close, but Durham could feel they had stuck to their task well in the soaring temperatures.