Somerset v Surrey, Taunton, 2nd day September 12, 2013

Compton looks a million dollars


Surrey 195 (Thomas 4-23) and 13 for 0 trail Somerset 260 (Compton 66, Trego 38, Ansari 3-30) by 52 runs

There was no England selector at Taunton yesterday so in the spirit of co-operation, here is a summary for the next meeting of the top table. NRD Compton v Surrey, Taunton, September 12: Runs 66. Balls: 88. Dollars (looking like): A million. A few facts to gather dust ahead of the announcement of the Ashes squad on September 23.

Observing Compton in this form begs the question why England seemingly drew such a heavy line under his Test career. Opting to open with Joe Root in the Ashes was one thing; allowing Compton's exclusion to be seen as perpetual banishment was quite another.

England, it seemed, observed a couple of tortuous innings against New Zealand and took a view, but watching his clear-headed strokeplay at Taunton begged the question of exactly which opener would offer more reliable opening cover for the tour of Australia? Compton remains short of 1,000 first-class runs this season - so does every Somerset batsman - but he averages 48 which is respectable enough. Michael Carberry, incidentally averages 40 for Hampshire in Division Two. To opt for Varun Chopra would be a gamble on an untried player at international level.

There was a time just before lunch when it was possible to imagine that this was a top-of-the table encounter, not a match between two candidates for relegation. Compton, in league with Craig Kieswetter, was central to that, counterpunching with style against a highly-regarded Surrey pace attack. The quality of the strokeplay was as good as you could wish to witness. Taunton was a good place to be.

In this troubled Somerset season, home supporters drank it in like they might soak up the last sunshine of summer, regarding it as all the sweeter because they knew how ephemeral it would be.

Kieswetter fell softly on the stroke of lunch, driving loosely to cover; and soon after the resumption, Compton became one of two wickets in an over for Jade Dernbach as he tried to guide behind square on the off side and played on. It was a frustrating end, but he was the only Somerset batsman to give the impression of permanence.

At 133 for 6, the Somerset scoreboard had a familiar ring to it, but they found something within themselves to reach 260, securing two priceless batting bonus points and a first-innings lead of 65. Surrey's second innings began briefly, but bad light stole 20 overs from the day.

If enterprise was the impression as Compton and Kieswetter added 62 for the fourth wicket, the stand of 68 between Peter Trego and Craig Meschede for the seventh wicket was a judicious one. A brilliant catch by the 18-year-old debutant, Dom Sibley, at deep cover silenced Trego. Piyush Chawla also dug in for 32 at No. 10; a late overseas acquisition respecting the opportunity he has been given.

But all that felt like struggle; it was the hour up to lunch that raised the spirits. Compton drove vigorously and Kieswetter's dash was backed up by rapid running between the wickets. Compton was dropped off Dernbach on 42, a challenging low catch to Vikram Solanki at second slip, diving across Gareth Batty at first, and Meaker was ill-served by several thick edges to third man (fashionably unguarded), but the overriding mood of a stand of 62 in 12 overs was one of optimism.

Somerset had begun the day with a little victory, denying Surrey a batting bonus point as Alfonso Thomas snaffled the last two wickets without a run added. But Surrey struck back immediately when Somerset lost both openers for nought, with Marcus Trescothick dragging on third ball - a reward for Dernbach's insistent line.

Trescothick's immediate desire to retain the Somerset captaincy had been reasserted in timely fashion in his column in the Western Daily Press. "What I can say is I love captaining Somerset as much as I love the club itself and at this point I have no intention of handing over the reins," he said. "I know there are people who have looked at my shortage of runs this season and linked it to the added pressure of being skipper - but I have been doing the job for four seasons and I don't believe it has any adverse effect on my form. I enjoy the challenge and it remains my dream to lead the team to the success we all crave."

Success was not the word that sprung immediately to mind. Survival will do for a start.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 13, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    I was there, Nick Compton was in fine nick. His shot selection was excellent and his attacking shots were timely and elegant.

  • Mark on September 13, 2013, 15:12 GMT

    @JG2704 It looks as if you may have spoken too soon. With Surrey only 32 ahead and four good wickets down, it may only need a session and a bit tomorrow to get a result.

    A Somerset win would effectively leave Surrey needing two wins to avoid relegation and, even then, they would still depend on the sides above them. Somerset would be safe, barring disaster.

  • John on September 13, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    @Richard Compton - I looked at the posters name and wondered if there was a link and then looked at the face on the fb page and it very much resembled that of a tearful father I saw cheering on his son's maiden test ton in NZ. I have to be honest , I Nick looked in terrible touch for Eng when they dropped him but they've persevered with others when they've been in bad touch. Personally I think his treatment by Eng was shambolic - the way they never backed him in NZ when rumours 1st started circulating and asking him to play for Worcs when they obviously had no intention to recall him I can understand why they may have wanted a faster scorer up front to up the tempo playing alongside Cook and Trott but then why pick Nick to begin with if that was an issue and Root has being playing just as slowly. Anyway we at Somerset appreciate him and hope he can help keep us up.

  • Dummy4 on September 13, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Sorry my friend he played on to dernbach. As for temperament, perhaps you need to know a few things about him before you smart off. Look at the stats my mate

  • John on September 13, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    It looks like there's little chance of a result here and plenty of play at Derby so I feel both teams are at a disadvantage. Have to hope Durham do us a favour

  • Ray on September 13, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    Mixed feelings about Compton. I'm glad to see him playing well but I wish it had been against someone else!

    Like @Charlie101, I would prefer to see NC opening 'Down Under' with Root back at #6 (at least for the Ashes series).

    @JG2704: I wouldn't worry too much about the time (even if the weather interferes: It doesn't take very long to bowl our mob out!!

  • Paul on September 13, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Couldn't add to Hopps' excellent description of the Zum innings, JG2704. Tremlett was the interesting one for me yesterday. I watched his later spells from side-on and he looked stiff in his run-up. The length of the run-up itself appeared unnecessarily long considering the way he slowed at the point of delivery. the result was a lot of accurate deliveries that lacked the venom generated by the best of Meaker and Dernbach (though also lacking the free gifts generated by the worst of Dernbach). I wonder whether Tremlett is really recovered from his injuries.

    But never mind Surrey and England, there was a general perkiness about Zum which made me feel confident about their prospects. It's raining here in Taunton (at 9am), but if there's one team ripe for rolling over in 50 overs on Saturday, it's Surrey, I reckon.

  • Mark on September 13, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    I don't think that the Compton issue is even worthy of discussion: yes, he has to go to Australia. End of discussion.

    Chopra and Carberry will be there with the Lions and close by, if needed, although Carberry has just received that most terrifying of messages "you've had a hard time, we're all behind you" (translation: your job is on the line).

    This summer's events have shown, for once and for all, that Nick Compton was ditched too quickly. Rather than give stability to the top order, moving Joe Root up lost him as a player and de-stabilized it more. Instead of regularly getting opening partnerships of 40-50, we were rarely getting even 20. We need a player like Compo to tire the opening bowlers and grind them down, rather than letting them get their tails up with early wickets. It doesn't matter is he averages 30 in a series if the opening partnership averages 50.

    In this match, it is a pity that rain will probably preclude a result. Somerset are well placed to win.

  • Charles on September 13, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    I hope they take Compton to Australia as I feel we are a strongerand more solid team with Root at 6 and NC opening.

  • Martin on September 13, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    @ Ray Riggall - Don't be ridiculous. Compton scored back to back Test centuries and then had two poor Tests - this 'proves' nothing about his technique and certainly not his temperament (which looked good in both India and NZ). I suppose you're going to right off the rest of Kerrigan's career as well because he looked like a 'scared infant'.

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