Compton eyes England opener spot
As a potential Test debut nears, Nick Compton has admitted his disappointment at making just one run in his first two innings on tour. Compton redeemed himself by scoring an unbeaten 64 at the third attempt, giving him an edge on Joe Root - who made 28 and 24 against Mumbai A - in the contest to open the batting alongside Alastair Cook in the first Test against India.
Compton was given the nod ahead of Root in England's opening warm-up match but made a three-ball duck. With Cook having scored a century, England's captain stepped aside to allow the two contrasting novices - Compton is eight years older than Root, with three times as many first-class runs to his name - to open the batting together and Compton settled in to make a patient first fifty for England.
"It's quite easy with just three games before the first Test to start working out permutations and it's quite natural as everyone in the squad is vying for places," Compton said. "I would be lying if I said I didn't have an eye on that opening spot. I did take a bit of confidence from getting the nod in the first game which is why I was disappointed at not taking that initial chance. It's been and gone. I've been working with the coaches, speaking to people who have done consistently well out here. That knowledge is important given I've been playing most of my cricket in England in the last two years."
Compton scored 1494 first-class runs at an average of almost 100 last season and appeared to be foremost in the selectors thoughts to replace Andrew Strauss at the top of the order after partnering Cook against India A. Despite a shaky start, Compton said the second innings against Mumbai had helped him find his feet - and then get them moving - in Indian conditions.
"It's not been the ideal start," he said. "Sometimes you have to give yourself time. It's a new country, a new bunch of team-mates so it does take a bit of time. Perhaps I was a bit hard on myself but for me the most important thing was to spend some time out in the middle as early as I could. The more balls I faced and the more time I spent will help for future games.
"You need a foundation, somewhere to build from. I feel like this has given me three hours in the middle. I think I got my balance back and the feet got moving. Earlier in the game my feet weren't moving that well and I got caught out, but that can happen. We've had six, seven weeks off in England and then you come here and that can happen. You just have to switch on quickly and hopefully build from strengths."
England play one more warm-up match, a four-day game against Haryana starting on Thursday, with the first Test beginning a week later. Compton was clear that getting runs was an important step in pushing his case but said that the focus on selection could be distracting.
"Everyone needs to score runs and show form to get picked," he said. "It's fairly common sense. I thought Joe played well in the first innings, looked good, batted for a good length of time. This innings it was good to get a score that I desperately needed. As soon as you put one eye on who's playing and who's not you take one eye off the ball. I've done it before. For me it was just about scoring runs, spending time in the middle, which is something I've done consistently well over the last year."
A fastidious technician, Compton is renowned for his defensive technique and it may be that the balls he doesn't hit are just as important to his chances of playing in Ahmedabad as the ones he does.
"You just have to stay true to your processes. Everyone has a couple of key things that keep them grounded and going ball after ball. The key is to try and stick to that. Today I felt my leaving was more assured, I played the balls I had to. It's very easy to know what not to do when you come here. It's my first tour, I desperately want to do well but if you try too hard, if you try to force it, it can go the other way. You want to be ambitious, hungry and take your chance but at the same time you want to stay calm and composed. You have to maintain a balance and trust that you've played well over the year and can continue that here."