New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day March 9, 2013

Cook and Compton lead fightback with tons


England 234 for 1 (Cook 116, Compton 102*) and 167 trail New Zealand 460 for 9 dec (Rutherford 171, McCullum 74, Fulton 55) by 59 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alastair Cook and Nick Compton struck centuries as they committed themselves to righting the wrongs of England's first-innings batting debacle. But that told only half the story. For Cook, a 24th Test hundred, timed to perfection with the new ball still five overs away, was simply a restatement of his undoubted quality. For Compton, the final stages of a maiden Test hundred possessed all the mental anguish that a first time should.

These were hundreds born of mortification as England, guilt-stricken by a first-innings deficit of 293 and with five-and-a-half sessions to save the game, closed the fourth day only 59 runs behind New Zealand and with still nine wickets remaining. But if Cook added further lustre to his Test record - one to rival Sachin Tendulkar at the same age - with what has become his customary languorous elegance, Compton scraped through the 90s in more than 12 tension-ridden overs.

Compton, who fell for a duck in the first innings, had steeled himself to track Cook's progress for much of the day and if his innings was the more unobtrusive, his defensive outlook possessed a seasoned feel which illustrated why England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, kept faith in the solidity he could bring at the top of the order. He must have been born with his back to the wall.

But when Cook logged another hundred, Compton found himself on 90, and it felt an age away. Cook urged him to maintain his tempo, impending new ball or not, and when that new ball came, with him still six runs away, he would have been immediately run out on 94, risking a single to mid-on off Trent Boult, had Bruce Martin managed to hit direct.

Cook must have felt like a guiding light for his inexperienced partner, but that light was then cruelly extinguished two overs before the close with Compton on 99, the England captain's five-and-a-half hour stay ending when Boult had him caught behind.

It was appropriate reward for Boult, who was the likeliest of the New Zealand attack and who conceded less than two runs an over all day, but it piled the pressure on Compton. When he next looked to the non-striker's end for encouragement, he found only the gangling figure of the nightwatchman, Steven Finn. Two balls later - with 11 deliveries left in the day - he worked Tim Southee through midwicket, shouting with delight and applauded from the boundary's edge by his tearful father.

Cook and Compton settled to a laborious task without much ado, outstripping England's first-wicket record against New Zealand, the 223 previously set by Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare at The Oval in 1983.

Their resistance on a cold and cheerless day gave the crowd another reason for forbearance. It was Saturday, but the mood was so workmanlike it felt like Monday morning. New Zealand's bowlers ran in eagerly, their spirits high and their lengths fuller than their English counterparts, and the captaincy of Brendon McCullum was business-like, more proactive perhaps than his predecessor, Ross Taylor.

But for all New Zealand's vigour, a stodgy brown surface showed no signs of deterioration. Cook essayed an occasional attractive square cut or clip off his legs, so intent upon not driving down the ground that only one single in his hundred came in such a manner; Compton just bedded in, his mental approach as upright as his stance, his footwork decisive but rarely expansive.

There was a hint of swing for the left-arm quick, Neil Wagner, the least accurate of New Zealand's fast-bowling trio, and when Cook squirted Bruce Martin's slow left-arm off his pads to reach his fifty, there might have been a semblance of turn, but any excitement was tempered by the low bounce that made it easier to counter.

England's openers took time to settle. Cook, on four, needed an inside edge to survive Southee's resounding lbw appeal and New Zealand lost a review against Compton, on 16, when the same bowler appealed for a catch down the leg-side, replays suggesting that the ball had brushed his thigh pad. Wagner also found enough inswing to give Compton some uncomfortable moments. But after staving off 22 overs before lunch, they were in orderly mood throughout an attritional afternoon. That both have the temperament to bat long was not a matter for debate, but while Cook's Test record has few equals at this stage of his career, Compton's talent remained unchartered.

It was all an abrupt change of tempo from New Zealand's enterprising start to the day as they added a further 58 in less than nine overs before declaring with nine down. McCullum, 44 not out from 42 balls overnight, flogged England to distraction, thrashing another 30 from 17 balls.

McCullum swung Stuart Broad over deep square-leg to reach his fifty, the ball sailing over two Union Jacks at the back of a temporary stand and a bus as it flew out of the ground. He then pulled and drove James Anderson for further sixes. To compound Anderson's misery, McCullum escaped potential catches by Cook, at first slip, and Compton, at deep cover, by inches before he skied Broad high to mid-on where Anderson held an awkward catch.

McCullum's mood also rubbed off on the debutant left-arm spinner, Martin, who pulled about with gusto until he was caught at the wicket for 41 off Finn attempting another leg-side hit. It was an enterprising start to the day, but it was about to be replaced by something more serious and, ultimately, more significant, too.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 10, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    @Staunch_for_NZ on (March 9, 2013, 19:47 GMT), I don't want to put NZ down because they have played well but, after the first session on day 5, it's clear that England have not been saved by the weather. They are now ahead with just 2 wickets down so, with more time available, could well have pushed for a win themselves. NZ bowled well enough in the first innings but I think any realistic evaluation would have to admit that England did most of the damage themselves. Now that England have their eye on the ball, even Finn is scoring plenty of runs. Lets also not forget that NZ got significant help from England's butter fingers. You can't rely on that happening every time (I hope). On this pitch, it was always going to take either a magical bowling effort from someone or else for the batsmen to throw it away to get a result. England made a good fist of the latter in the first innings but they've regained their focus for the second.

  • Robert on March 9, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    Re SnowSnake's comment. A draw might be better for NZ than Eng in regard to ICC rankings but in the immediate context of this series it will hurt the Kiwis badly. Everyone (with the possible exception of the NZ'ers) predicted this series as a 3-0 Eng sweep. To catch Eng cold and put themselves in a winning position at the end of day three was great for the Kiwis. After day four that winning opportunity seems to have gone down the pan. I can see Eng batting out the final day and posting a big score as a marker for the two matches to come. There are still 90 overs of cricket to be played and all 4 possible results are on. However, I wouldn't be putting money on anything other than the draw.

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    Although I'd have preferred to see Joe Root open with Cook in order to accommodate an all-rounder at Six or Seven as part of a five-man attack, this is one of those rare occasions when I'm only too delighted to have had to eat my own words. Apart from those harum-scarum singles he scrambled in the 90s, Compton displayed admirable sang-froid in an innings of increasing authority. He's certainly not one of nature's strokemakers, but if he can average 40-45 on a regular basis he'll be a more than worthy successor to Andrew Strauss.

    This is now England's game to lose. That'll only happen if they repeat their mass batting hara-kiri of the first innings, but this game has been a salutary reminder of the foolhardiness of underestimating sides like New Zealand, who, after all, managed to draw recent away series against both Australia & SL &, but for some truly mind-boggling umpiring by Steve Davis (yet again) & Ian Gould, would've won in Bangalore to level their series against India as well.

  • Graham on March 9, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    Most of the pieces are dropping into place for the Ashes. If Nick Compton can continue in this vein then England have a settled opening partnership that are technically correct and can deal with greentops and dustbowls alike. It all makes for a good-looking batting line up (in spite of the horror 1st innings), and the bowling attack is only fractionally adrift of the Saffers. Now Nick needs to start again as if the score is 0 for 0 and go on to a big daddy innings.

  • Peter on March 9, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Really chuffed for Nick Compton. He made an encouraging start in India, but still had plenty to prove. With open talk in the media about Root being earmarked for the opener's spot; plus the sheer pressure of going out to bat with such a huge deficit (and being on a pair), he responded brilliantly with an innings full of watchfullness and discipline. As for Cooky, it's what we've come to expect! Another fabulous knock full of authority and calm. Still plenty of work for England to do - and they'll probably have to bat into the final session to be safe. Great to see England respond in this way. People can say "it's only NZ" or "it's a flat pitch," but nothing's easy with a 293 deficit - top work from Cook and Compton. New Zealand have played really well, and with a couple of quick wickets in the morning, they'd still be in with a big chance.

  • Muhammad on March 9, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    NZ back to earth after floating in air for 2 days.

  • sean on March 9, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    this is great batting , all about test cicket

  • Al on March 9, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    NZ can win today with 98 overs to go and a new ball to start with. There will be plenty of nerves in the English camp with 2-3 very early wickets. NZ have won all sessions apart from this innings, but the NZ bowlers never gave in. NZ have no nerves to worry about and are still in the box seat....pity about the loss in overs with weather...NZ would have then put together a higher score, instead of smashing some quick runs, then had plenty of time to bowl England out....England is saved by the 60 odd overs lost in the match....still it is a pleasure to watch every ball or listen while watching my own son playing his premier game Y7 .....thanks boys for entertaining us.

  • John on March 9, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (March 9, 2013, 11:42 GMT) I agree that Nick needed to show a bit more than he has done already but still maintain that past form should not keep you in the side if you're horribly out of nick (and someone else is banging hard on the door) and I think Eng overdo that. As I've said several times , there are cases when you can keep a player in a side in the hope he'll regain his touch. We did that with Cook. I think it's different when you're losing matches etc and there have been a few in the last year or so who IMO should have been axed.

  • Satish on March 9, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    Rick_T on (March 9, 2013, 12:12 GMT) Mate NZ will not win this match they lead Eng by only 59 runs not 226 read the headline will you?(Whose comment is absurd now?) Let me give you some examples SA in SA recently beat Pakistan twice after 1st inning lead of 250+.OZ crushed Sri Lanka in similar way in Australia.And India beat OZ in 2nd test in similar way.BUT NZ squandered 1st inning leads to teams like WI(minus CH GAYLE) and Bangladesh in NZ couple of years ago.Enough proof for you sir?I hope we are good.