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March 19, 2013
Nick Compton has admitted that his mind often drifts towards the Ashes as he drifts off to sleep but he is trying to keep his emotions in check even though, with just three Tests remaining before the opening match against Australia at Trent Bridge, it is inconceivable that Compton will not be facing the new ball.
Compton followed his maiden Test hundred in Dunedin with an even 100 at the Basin Reserve during a second-wicket stand of 210 with Jonathan Trott. These back-to-back hundreds answered some immediate questions about whether he would be able to back-up his initial success and, barring injury, he will now begin a series where the Compton-Miller is given to one participant at the conclusion.
However, Compton's immediate concerns are more prosaic than anything so grand as England's Ashes campaign. Firstly there is the deciding Test of this series in Auckland and then, perhaps after a short break, a return to county cricket, the arena where his career made a defining shift last year as he came within a whisker (and a wet day) of 1000 runs before the end of May.
"You go to bed at night thinking about the Ashes, you might read the odd comment here and there of course," he said. "You get full of exuberance, which is what keeps driving you. I would be lying if I said I didn't want to play in an Ashes series, of course I do.
"But having played enough, looking too far ahead doesn't do any good. You have to make sure that you stick to the next game. After this series I go back to county cricket, I get my head down again and make sure if that time arrives, I put myself in the box seat."
"I have played enough cricket now to know that that line between success and failure is quite thin and I think the more you play the more respect you have for the game, the more humility you have to have in some ways, because things can change very quickly, they can go wrong."
If the progression of the England and Australia sides continue along their current lines there will be an interesting head-to-head later this year when Compton goes up against Ed Cowan who is set to open for Australia. Both players are deep thinkers, cerebral cricketers, who have earned their chance through hard graft on the domestic circuit.
Although Compton's game did not change drastically between Dunedin and Wellington, there was more of a greater sense of belonging during his second century; a slight release of tension, more authority in his stroke play. In terms of balls faced it was a brisker hundred - 224 balls compared to 259 at University Oval - but the message from those around him, including captain Alastair Cook, has been that he should not feel the need to alter his style.
"I felt slightly different in that I had some runs behind me and that always makes a difference," he said. "I proved to myself that that process was up and running again, which I had during the summer. As any batsman you need to get on that roll, momentum is important and I had that coming in here.
"But it was also important I didn't get ahead of myself. I had to start again. You're always on nought, as a batsman it doesn't make any difference whether you've got five or six hundreds behind you. It doesn't make it any easier but it was nice to have those runs behind me. I always set myself the stall of getting myself in. I think once you get yourself in as a batsman you've got a chance."
And a degree of relief? "There's only so much talking you can do. It comes to the stage where you perhaps feel that there's something inside there but you need to show it. It's nice to put those markers down which say 'there you go, there's two hundreds'. I had a feeling I could do it but you never really know until you do it at this level. So, yes, I'm chuffed that I've managed to pass that test."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane