England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 19, 2013

Compton fights Ashes thoughts

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 ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on March 20, 2013, 2:12 GMT

    I am sure Compton knows what is to be done if he wants to play the first Ashes Test and that is to make 1 or 2 more tons,preferably large ones. That is the surefire way.

  • John on March 19, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    Saw the interview on Sky.

    I think the fact that he has been around for so long , learning his game with Middx and Somerset should hopefully stand him in good stead. As a Somerset fan I'll have mixed feelings as he is an important member of the side so he'll be a big loss if he's playing for England but by the same token if he's not playing for England that'll mean his form has gone awry. I've said before that I don't believe too much in the "credit in the bank" theory re keeping underperforming players in the side and if Nick's form considerably slides between now and the Ashes he should not be picked based on his recent form. Anyway good luck to the guy , he deserves every success

  • John on March 19, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 19, 2013, 7:05 GMT) He wasn't made a scapegoat because of that inns. The rumours were circulating about his place being in jeopardy before that innings

  • Samuel on March 19, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    You just knew by watching him bat last year in the conditions that were presented that this guy could play Test cricket - those calling for his head after one series were ridiculous, especially when considered in light of Root's struggles. Now he needs to really kick on - one of his main strengths since coming down to Taunton has been making 100s count, passing 150 often and a couple of 200s to boot, and I know he'll be disappointed to have gotten out not long after getting to the landmark both times he's passed it. If he, Cook & Trott can blunt the new ball & grind out big runs, it allows England's more aggressive middle order to play with such freedom that they can whip the game away from you in an instant.

  • des on March 19, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Compton is a solid opener and deserves to play in the Ashes, the hype over Root was absurd and overblown.

    He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and with his SA background I'm sure he gets on well with the other batsmen.

  • Hamish on March 19, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    I remember seeing the parallels between him and Cowan after the first innings of the first test. As soon as he was out to a bowl that kept a little low, despite being of many who failed, he was the main scapegoat of the innings. When Cowan makes that fighting 30/40, and is involved in a low total, despite seeing of the early dangers of the new bowl, something that Watson would regularly not do, he was the main batsmen being victimized. Interesting to see that despite many calls to omit Cowan or Compton, they have both been in very effective opening partnerships is comparison to other countries. Statistically, the Cowan/Warner partnership is the best and the Compton/cook combo have posted three/four century opening stands. Why do people feel the need to change this? From what I've seen, and based on FC averages, Compton is a much better batsmen than root. And despite both centuries being on relatively flat pitches against a grafting attack, England look to have found a beaut in Compton.

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