Mumbai A v England XI, Mumbai, 3rd day November 5, 2012

Compton eyes England opener spot

ESPNcricinfo staff

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on November 6, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Third time lucky for Compton; I'd like to see him open with Cook in the tests and perform well. @Sandshoe-Crusher (post on November 06 2012, 09:16 AM GMT): very original... Did you even look at his home-page yet? First word under his name = England; Played for England under 19's; Curse of the green-eyed monster again is it? The one that got away etc. etc.

  • Aabhas on November 6, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Surely giving a debut to a near 30 year old isnt the way forward. Then again, the other option is a guy with a first class average of 38 after a substantial amount of FC games. Bring it on - cant wait for another brownwash!

  • Paul on November 6, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    One South African born player replacing another in the England line up ....nothing to see here folks..

  • Andrew on November 6, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    I had to do a double-take (& enlarge the photo) - the file photo almost looked like KP, something about the stance.

  • John on November 6, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    You'd think that the second opener's spot was Compton's to lose when this tour began and he made a pretty good effort at doing so with two failures in his first two innings. His third innings would have restored some confidence for both him and the management but his strike rate doesn't suggest that it was especially fluent. If they want him to play the Tests then they have no choice but to play him in the third warmup but if he fails again then Root would be a bit light on for game time. I doubt that they'll want to sit Cook out again so if Root was to play again also then would they play Compton at #3 and sit Trott out? If they do that and Compton does well then it still doesn't necessarily mean he can open. It's a tricky decision for Cook and Flower and it's not the only selection headache they have.

  • Ross on November 5, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    I think Compton would have had to fail in all three warm-ups to be denied his Test debut. In other words he was already pencilled in, Root is there for experience. If, as now seems likely, Patel plays he should bat at 6. His bowling doesn't earn him a place in the side, if he's picked it is as a batsman, his bowling role that of a fifth bowler to a four man attack. So he must bat at 6,the extra responsibility could be the making of him, it's certainly a great opportunity for him.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    Compton always speaks with such maturity and I really hope to see him establish himself in the Test side. A L-R combination with Cook is a good option, although both are fairly slow-scoring in FC cricket, which can be a problem in subcontinental conditions. But I think most of the middle and lower order are naturally attacking players which means a solid foundation is the job of the top 3, and I can see Compton, Cook and Trott grinding plenty of sides out. Really hope that he gets the nod and can take his chance. My England side for the 1st Test would be 1Compton 2Cook* 3Trott 4Pietersen 5Bell 6Patel 7Prior 8Bresnan 9Swann 10Anderson 11Panesar. Bairstow is on form to take over from Bell if he misses the 2nd Test, and hopefully Broad and Finn will be fit by then to challenge Bresnan and Panesar. India still favourites though.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    he should be in 11........................................................................................................................

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