Compton strikes Lord's century
Kent 308 and 42 for 0 (Fulton 19*, Key 15*) need 311 more runs to beat Middlesex 333 and 327 (Compton 124, Dalrymple 64, Khan 4-58)
The name Compton has a long history with Lord's and today it was back up in lights as Nick Compton, Denis's grandson, struck his maiden Championship century to haul Middlesex out of trouble on the third day against Kent. He arrived after three early wickets during the morning session and, after initially playing second fiddle to Jamie Dalrymple, pushed Middlesex towards their eventual lead of 353.
Last week Compton notched his first first-class century but, without trying to take anything away from Oxford UCCE, the bowling attack would not have been as testing as that on offer at Lord's. His previous best in the Championship had been 40, on debut, against Worcestershire in 2004 and conditions weren't easy when he arrived. The ball was still swinging considerably, but he quickly began to rotate the strike with Dalrymple, the senior partner, who steadied the Middlesex innings after it had slumped to 45 for 4.
When Dalrymple departed, falling across the crease against the impressive Robbie Joseph, Compton took the innings under his young wings. Boundaries were limited but he sprinted hard between the wickets and when he connected with a big shot, he did so in style. A handsome straight drive into the pavilion loosened the shackles and he immediately appeared calmer at the crease.
Understandably the tension mounted as three figures approached and he nearly edged Simon Cook twice while on 96. However, in the next over, from Min Patel, he danced out of his crease and smashed the ball over mid-off and into the Warner Stand to break through the 100-mark off 184 balls. A jig of delight followed as his team-mates and the crowd rose for a standing ovation. The giant electronic scorecard - a feature that certainly wasn't around in the days of his grandfather, when he scored the last of his Lord's hundreds on August 28, 1957 - flashed up the figures and he led the players off at tea.
The significance of this innings goes beyond just the personal and historical factors as it put Middlesex in an increasingly strong position. The top order stuttered as they attempted to build on their 25-run first-innings lead with Kent's seamers, especially Joseph and Amjad Khan, maintaining the pressure
Already one down overnight, following the late loss of Ed Smith yesterday evening, Middlesex quickly lost their other opener, Ben Hutton, when he miscued a pull for the second time in the match. There was useful movement for the pacemen as the sun struggled to pierce the morning could cover, but Owais Shah middled a couple of sumptuous cover-drives and was more compact than his rather skittish affair in the first innings. However, he could build on the promising start as he was beaten for pace by Khan - a slight lack of bounce - to be pinned in front, leaving Middlesex 45 for 3.
The score hadn't moved when Kent struck another major blow by removing Ed Joyce. Fresh from his 130 on Wednesday, Joyce was left needing to produce another sizeable innings but drove loosely at Joesph and Martin van Jaarsveld continued his excellent catching form with a sharp take at second slip.
However, Dalrymple showed the composure and correctness that gained him A team recognition in the winter. He was quick onto anything off line, particularly through the offside, and brought up his fifty from 64 balls. His innings, though, was quickly overshadowed by Compton who, with valuable support from the busy Craig Wright, pushed the lead over 300.
A determined start by David Fulton and Robert Key has left Kent needed 311 more runs and set up a fascinating final day, in what has been a superb advertisement for hard-fought county cricket. Today, though, was all about one of the most famous names in cricket making a 21st century appearance in the middle of the most famous ground in the world.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo