New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day March 14, 2013

Trott, Compton in glorious display of grit

Alastair Cook fell early, but the job he so often does for England was performed ably by Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton

The road surface on the proposed flyover next to the Basin Reserve, which is causing much consternation among those worried about its impact on the ground, will not be much flatter than the 22 yards in the middle were made to look by Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott.

You could not have found a more polar opposite performance to the first innings in Dunedin, where England donated wickets as though making a delivery to a charity shop. Amends were made in the second innings and that head-down, don't-give-it-away, attitude was transferred to Wellington.

England's top three embody that philosophy to batting. They are all renowned for substance over style. Alastair Cook's dismissal was a shock because he does not chip catches to mid-on in a Test match, but any concern that the captain's early departure would destabilise the top order was widely misplaced.

That will have satisfied Andy Flower immensely because after Dunedin, he said some other members of the top order had to take the lead, rather than leaving it to Cook to repeatedly set the tone. There was a sense of inevitably about Trott's hundred, but at the other end there was the continued evolution of a batsman who has a similarly single-minded approach, if without quite the same compulsive mannerisms.

When Compton walked to the crease, he was a batsman with a Test hundred to his name and it showed. He did not suddenly become a dashing, thrilling strokemaker - at one stage during the afternoon it took him 77 balls to add 14 - but there was an ease at the crease created by the confidence of his achievement in Dunedin.

There were two pulls during the opening session that had an air of authority about them and a cover drive that purred off the bat. When his tempo slowed during the middle session Compton did not fret; he had been there many times in his first-class career. A fierce square drive behind point, with a flourishing follow through, took him to 96 and an even better shot, a rasping cover drive, brought up the hundred which sparked more emotional celebrations. This time there was a greater sense of enjoyment rather than relief.

Trott, though, did not sense any sudden change in Compton's approach. "You can never go into a Test match relaxed, you are always quite nervous especially at the start of your career," he said. "You don't want to take things for granted. But I certainly think he will take a lot of confidence out of it, knowing he can score runs at this level, because you are never really quite sure until you score your first hundred. Maybe he felt more confident, don't think it's a case of being relaxed."

It took Trott 12 innings to double his hundred tally following his debut ton against Australia at The Oval. Back-to-back hundreds, regardless of conditions, are a considerable feat of concentration and refocusing. A cautionary note, though. The previous player to follow his debut ton with another in the next innings was Ravi Bopara in 2009. Nothing is ever guaranteed for the future.

At times in the County Championship last season, Compton will have faced tougher conditions than the Basin provided. New Zealand's bowlers, whose thoughts about Brendon McCullum's decision to bowl may have become more unprintable as the day progressed, were honest but limited. With an in-form top order themselves, especially after Hamish Rutherford's debut performance, it should really have been them batting. Without the encouragement of at least semi-regular breakthroughs, those 170 overs in the field four days ago will have been felt in the legs.

It was the opposite effect for Compton, whose energies will have risen as New Zealand's dipped. After Compton's maiden hundred, Cook was asked whether it will help relax his opening partner - renowned for an intense approach to the game - and Cook's reply was telling. He said he hoped it wouldn't, that the intensity to Compton's game was what drove his hunger to succeed.

"That is the art in cricket, finding the balance between intensity of wanting it too much or being a bit too relaxed," Trott said. "I think his balance at the moment is really good. He has a good work ethic so he fits right into this team."

The only occasions Compton was made slightly uncomfortable was during a testing spell by Tim Southee, who almost found the glove with a brace of well-directed bouncers over leg stump. When the short deliveries were around chest height, Compton had few concerns, but the hook did not seem such a natural stroke as the pull and fast bowlers around the world are unlikely to be slow to test him. In a mark of the innings, though, two balls after being beaten for the second time he stood tall and drove a boundary square.

Maybe Compton was not intense enough after reaching the hundred because he drove loosely to edge Bruce Martin to slip. International sport does not allow someone to be content with success for too long. There was the opportunity for something even more substantial if he had managed to start his innings again.

After driving the last ball of the day for two, Trott, as he always does, remarked his guard before walking off. New Zealand managed to dislodge one century-maker, but there is another with his eye on plenty more runs. "As a batsman you have never scored enough, you never think you've done the job," he said. Compton may just be pondering that thought, too.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 15, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    @Beige_and_blue on (March 14, 2013, 19:37 GMT) Look what happened when England were playing without caution in the 1st inns of the 1st test? re "Well done England, you have saved another test; this time batting for a draw from the first ball"

    Do you still think Eng are playing in that mode?

    Yes , boring to watch but the detractors will always have their views and who cares what they are anyway?

    Disappointing comms from a fan of my second favourite nation

  • Martin on March 14, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    England's batting drudgery was understandable in the first test; they were batting to save a match they were clearly losing. The same cannot be said here in Wellington. This just served to give ammo to my favorite sport's detractors with the complaint that it's 'boring' Well done England, you have saved another test; this time batting for a draw from the first ball.

  • david on March 14, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    not sure about Compton making big score in CC but hes consistent. he struggled in the 1st test from 90 to 100 but did not have that problem in the 2nd. perhaps in his 3rd he will go on and make a biggie. did anyone think in some of his drives and square cuts and the shot to get to 100 looked very much similar to robin smith

  • colin on March 14, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    England's top three have exactly what you need for Test cricket. Grit, concentration, and guts. They're never going to score 120 ball hundreds, but that's not their job. I admire Compton's mental fortitude, even if I'm not entirely convinced about his technique. Trott, in this mood, looks like he's virtually undismissable. Cook is of a similar demeanor [usually]

  • Mark on March 14, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    @SamuelH I do not think that the pitch is that good. It was noticeable that the New Zealand bowlers admitted that they had not used it well. Don't be amazed if New Zealand find batting a little harder. Incidentally, I had the same observation on Nick Compton: twice he has got to 100 and got out soon after. When you get past 100, get greedy! I would be surprised if Jonathon Trott doesn't go on to score 150+ if he gets in tonight.

  • Bryan on March 14, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Simple difference between Compton and Bopara. Compton is a man who has worked hard over 10 or more years to get where he is, and carries on working hard and obviously apprecxiates the opportunity he has earned. Bopara is a dilettante who has had everything put on a plate for him and proceeded to throw it away. He would be a hell of a player if he was half as good as he thinks he is.

  • Samuel on March 14, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    Compton is known for making big scores in county cricket so I think he'll be disappointed he's got out twice after getting to 100 without going on to get 150+, but at the same time 2 100s in 2 innings is a good achievement & will have done his confidence the world of good. Certainly can't be any question marks over his place in the side now. Feel England might rue scoring slowly today as the forecast for the final day is apocalyptic at best, and with the pitch looking this good I think a full 5 days would be needed for a result.

  • Mark on March 14, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    There were already comments in the commentary towards the end of the first session that the bowlers looked tired. It may well be that there is a lot more in the pitch than they were finding and that fresher bowlers may make this pitch look a lot less friendly that it has today. Certainly, it was noticeable that when the bowlers got the line and length right, a few balls really did move around and beat the batsmen all ends up.

  • sam on March 14, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Two test matches, no swing on offer. What is going on here?