England news May 29, 2013

Compton's Ashes hopes face defining month

After a lean series against New Zealand, Nick Compton needs to go back to county cricket and free his mind from recent stresses
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Nick Compton has up to 12 innings until early July to satisfy England that he should retain his opening place in the Ashes. Only last month he was acknowledging the applause in the Long Room at Lord's as he was named as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. Now he is faced by England cricket's version of the Dirty Dozen.

The suddenness with which the media has begun to question him must have taken him by surprise and contributed to his batting paralysis at Headingley. A rib injury also restricted him, but the negative vibes inhibited him even more as England's new batting sensation, Joe Root, was widely advocated as a replacement for Compton to make room for Kevin Pietersen's anticipated return from injury.

Compton has Championship matches for Somerset against Durham and Derbyshire, an assortment of limited-overs matches and, most strikingly, the potential of a four-day match against the Australians at Taunton on June 26. Somerset, who can barely make a run and who are threatened by relegation under their new coach Dave Nosworthy, will be grateful for his presence.

England have been supportive, but honest in their equivocation. Alastair Cook, the captain, whose opening stands with Compton average 57.93 - compare that with the 40.96 he averaged alongside Andrew Strauss - has agreed that dropping Compton and reshuffling the batting order would be "a risk" but the team director, Andy Flower, has said that Compton "has got to go away and get back into form, score some heavy runs for Somerset".

Flower meets up with the selectors on Thursday and although the meeting is primarily a lead-in to the Champions Trophy, as Flower hands over day-to-day running of England's team to the one-day coach Ashley Giles, discussions about Cook's opening partner in the Ashes will be on the agenda.

"When I meet with the selectors we'll discuss what make-up of the side will give us the best chance of winning the first Test against Australia," he said. "Nick's had a tough series against New Zealand. I think they've bowled really well at him; they've bowled really skilfully and they should be given credit for the pressure that they've applied on the England batsmen. They've enjoyed using the Dukes ball which has swung constantly for them.

"They were testing constantly the front foot techniques of all our batsmen and it was nice to see our batsmen come through that. Nick's had a hard time in this series but he's got the opportunity to go away and play some cricket for Somerset. Hopefully he goes away and can get back in the runs as quickly as possible."

Four uncomfortable innings, bringing only 39 runs, have removed much of the good impression made by Compton with secure, if occasionally painstaking innings, in Test series in India and New Zealand. He is now averaging 31.93 and his hundreds in Dunedin and Wellington seem further away than the calendar will tell you.

The batsman who forced his way into the England side through weight of runs in county cricket - a rarity these days - now has to reopen his county cricket production line to keep it. He will be aware that many feel there is too much tension in his game, that his desire to succeed for England is weighing too heavily upon him.

Michael Atherton, a former England captain, in the Times has compared him to the most overstrung England batsman of recent times, Mark Ramprakash, and urged him to use Somerset to rediscover his pleasure in the game.

The debate is sparked by Pietersen's anticipated return, with Jonny Bairstow the likely omission if England keep faith with Compton.

The England side with Compton at opener looks secure but may not carry the fight; the England side with Bairstow will be bolder but arguably more vulnerable. It is a decision not just about form but about the style of cricket England wish to play. Compton, if he scores big runs for Somerset, remains the favoured choice.

England are making increasingly encouraging noises about Pietersen's recovery from deep knee bruising, with Surrey - who like Somerset have relegation fears - anxiously awaiting the injection of some England batting talent into a flimsy line-up. Pietersen tweeted a picture of himself back in the nets for the first time as England closed in on victory in the second Test against New Zealand at Headingley.

"I'll also be seeing Kevin on Thursday and our medical staff are constantly monitoring how he's getting on," Flower said. "We'll be making those types of decisions closer to the time. We can't give a date or a timeline. He'll be practising from now on."

Pietersen's practice will be divorced from England's Champions Trophy squad as they seek to become the first England side to win a global 50-over competition.

"We are thinking optimistically about his injury improving and it's nice that he's pain free," Flower said. "It is great news for him and for us. Kevin's a really special player and we want him back as soon as he's fit enough to be back. Hopefully his improvement graph will carry on in the same way."

Flower, who stood down as one-day coach late last year to achieve a better work-life balance, admits that he will miss the excitement of being centrally involved in a major one-day tournament.

"I think I will. But you can't have everything in life, you win some and you lose some. I really want to support Ashley properly, I think he's an excellent coach and a good man and I want to be there to support him. But hopefully this is a really efficient use of our coaching resources and England cricket is better for it.

"I think the Champions Trophy will generate its own excitement and I don't think it will get lost in the weeks leading up to the Ashes. I obviously hope that England are playing some excellent cricket and the nation gets excited about their progress."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    Dropping Compton should be a last resort. He has made test hundreds and overall had an excellent of tour of New Zealand with the bat. Joe Root needs to bat at No.6 because he is England's Michael Hussey. Both bat at the top order/open in First-Class cricket but at test level, Hussey provided stability in the middle order and that's what Joe Root will do. England have been looking for a stable No.6 batsman for a long time.

    In cricket you can have good days and bad days and unfortunately for Nick Compton, he's going through some bad days. For now between test series, Nick needs to work with Somerset on how to convert his first-class successes to the international stage.

    There have been cricketers that should have been dropped, but selectors have said "no" and the cricketers have silenced their critics.

  • POSTED BY JerryV on | May 29, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    It would be a monumental mistake to give up on Compton. His technique and temperament are solid and gives us the best chance against Aussies.

    If we drop him, we wreck his mental state, and force him to play in less technically solid ways that may help him with bigger scores in the short run but destroy him as a solid opener over the years.

    This calls for sticking with him. Anyone can have bad form over a couple of Tests. The media are premature.

  • POSTED BY SaracensBob on | June 5, 2013, 0:19 GMT

    A tricky one this - Compton has earned his place through weight of LVCC runs but has not done enough to automatically keep it. Very mediocre in India - crease occupancy but few telling runs ( however only Cook, KP and Prior batted well); runs in NZ but never in a winning cause; and painfully laboured unproductive innings in home conditions v NZ. Question is who would open instead? Joe Root? I don't think so - talented as he is I think it's a little early to be giving him that responsibility. Mr Trott? Maybe. The answer might be to drop Bell who, not withstanding his good close catching, has been in poor form. Thus my No's 1 - 6 would be Cook, Trott, Root, KP, Bairstow and Prior. This would allow for 5 bowlers selecting from Swann, Anderson, Broad, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan and Monty (not to forget Onions, Plunkett and Meaker!) We have bowling riches that far outshine the Aussies! Runs are down to No's 1-6 but have a tail that can wag + has the power to take 20 wickets! Ashes are ours!

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | June 3, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    As an Aussie I thought id weigh in on this conversation / argument. I would love to see Compton stay hes clearly struggling and it would be a nice change to get a decent crack at Trott and KP with a new ball rather than having a solid opening pair. Think of it this way... If he cant score runs against Southee, Boult and Co. how can he do it against a team where the bowling attack is easily on avg 5kms quicker? If I was English id want Joe Root up there with Prior at 6 and Bresnan at 7 and play 5bowlers... especially if Broad and/ or Finn are out. I can admit England are the stronger side on paper but that only holds up if those players get on the field. if Anderson or swann go down in the next month i think we may be able to build some pressure on the weak bowlers that follow. Remember when Mcgrath was injured what a difference that made in 05 i think the same holds true this series and england could very well leave very redfaced.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | June 2, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    @Pyketts - PS re Nick. Making 100s when under severe media pressure re his place I think says something about the guy

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | June 2, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    @Pyketts -Listen you obviously don't like me pointing out facts. When Nick gets out to plodders , it's because he's not good enough and he's exposed , when Bell gets out to them "it just happens". I actually agree that if Nick doesn't rediscover his form he should not play in the Ashes series and if it started tomorrow he'd not be in my side. I also agree with the balance of the side but then again Mr Bell (in the last year by and large) hasn't exactly been urgent with his SR either. My point is that you (+ others) seem to have different rules for Bell and he never has his place questioned in the media. When Nick is in hopeless form he should be outed (forget about the 2 tons he scored vs NZ when Sky were talking more about his place in the side than the games) but when Bell is in similar form , we should remember his golden summer in 2011 - even though it does not count for anything. BTW Omar Nizam just mentions his GF. You were just putting 2+2 together to make 5

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | June 1, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    @JG2704 Not sure who made you the forum police but I was simply making a point that he was suggesting that his grandad was good so give him a chance. I think if you read it again you'll see that is the point he is making.

    Just because you average well in County Cricket doesn't mean you can cut it in test cricket (Hick, et al). I've never said he shouldn't have had a chance, just that he's had it and that balance of the top order isn't there due to his pace of batting and it's obvious he is not good enough. How many runs did Chopra score last year and not get a chance (I don't think he's good enough either though)?

    You obviously have an issue with Bell (I disapointed in the way he seems to find ways to get out at the minute) but if you can't see he is world class (and his average is to) I suspect we're wasting our time debating. I won't be coming back to this forum now, suspect I'll see you on some pages when the Ashes start and Compton (if he's playing) proves me right.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | June 1, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    There are two solutions send him in the middle order and Root will open or it is coaches's duty to tell him score fast. Blocking is good but rotating strike is excellent. and also every player is having good days & bad days but big event don't want bad days player. Recently when i saw Indian CT squad without Ganbhir, Sehwag, very strange no Yuvraj then i realize big event no excuse of bad form or days.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 31, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    @Pyketts on (May 31, 2013, 19:29 GMT) I see in your response to Omar Nizam that you basically just disregard others viewpoints if they don't match up to yours. He says "If he becomes half the player his grandfather was.." which is basically paying a compliment to his grandfather .. and you respond with a jibe about him playing for Arsenal. Sorry , but Strauss retired and the openers spot became available and Nick was leagues above anyone else in the 2012 domestic averages so why should he not be have been given a chance?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 31, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    @Pyketts - My point re listing those bowlers is not a moot point at all. You said that Compton was exposed by average bowlers - your words , not mine. So when these mediocre bowlers get Compton out - he is exposed , but when they get Bell out - it can happen to anyone? You're still saying about Nick scoring his runs on the flat tracks which is rubbish. Yes he's off form at the moment but when Bell is off form (as he has been most of the time since India 2011) he is still world class. His world class didn't do England any good when he averaged 8.5 in UAE did it. I actually did post something (which either didn't get published or disappeared) which basically said that if the Ashes started next week then Nick should be dropped and basically his Ashes place would depend on his form back at Somerset. On the same post I said that Root opening might not be a bad thing anyway as he opens for Yorks anyway and he would help up the tempo at the start of an inns.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    Dropping Compton should be a last resort. He has made test hundreds and overall had an excellent of tour of New Zealand with the bat. Joe Root needs to bat at No.6 because he is England's Michael Hussey. Both bat at the top order/open in First-Class cricket but at test level, Hussey provided stability in the middle order and that's what Joe Root will do. England have been looking for a stable No.6 batsman for a long time.

    In cricket you can have good days and bad days and unfortunately for Nick Compton, he's going through some bad days. For now between test series, Nick needs to work with Somerset on how to convert his first-class successes to the international stage.

    There have been cricketers that should have been dropped, but selectors have said "no" and the cricketers have silenced their critics.

  • POSTED BY JerryV on | May 29, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    It would be a monumental mistake to give up on Compton. His technique and temperament are solid and gives us the best chance against Aussies.

    If we drop him, we wreck his mental state, and force him to play in less technically solid ways that may help him with bigger scores in the short run but destroy him as a solid opener over the years.

    This calls for sticking with him. Anyone can have bad form over a couple of Tests. The media are premature.

  • POSTED BY SaracensBob on | June 5, 2013, 0:19 GMT

    A tricky one this - Compton has earned his place through weight of LVCC runs but has not done enough to automatically keep it. Very mediocre in India - crease occupancy but few telling runs ( however only Cook, KP and Prior batted well); runs in NZ but never in a winning cause; and painfully laboured unproductive innings in home conditions v NZ. Question is who would open instead? Joe Root? I don't think so - talented as he is I think it's a little early to be giving him that responsibility. Mr Trott? Maybe. The answer might be to drop Bell who, not withstanding his good close catching, has been in poor form. Thus my No's 1 - 6 would be Cook, Trott, Root, KP, Bairstow and Prior. This would allow for 5 bowlers selecting from Swann, Anderson, Broad, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan and Monty (not to forget Onions, Plunkett and Meaker!) We have bowling riches that far outshine the Aussies! Runs are down to No's 1-6 but have a tail that can wag + has the power to take 20 wickets! Ashes are ours!

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | June 3, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    As an Aussie I thought id weigh in on this conversation / argument. I would love to see Compton stay hes clearly struggling and it would be a nice change to get a decent crack at Trott and KP with a new ball rather than having a solid opening pair. Think of it this way... If he cant score runs against Southee, Boult and Co. how can he do it against a team where the bowling attack is easily on avg 5kms quicker? If I was English id want Joe Root up there with Prior at 6 and Bresnan at 7 and play 5bowlers... especially if Broad and/ or Finn are out. I can admit England are the stronger side on paper but that only holds up if those players get on the field. if Anderson or swann go down in the next month i think we may be able to build some pressure on the weak bowlers that follow. Remember when Mcgrath was injured what a difference that made in 05 i think the same holds true this series and england could very well leave very redfaced.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | June 2, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    @Pyketts - PS re Nick. Making 100s when under severe media pressure re his place I think says something about the guy

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | June 2, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    @Pyketts -Listen you obviously don't like me pointing out facts. When Nick gets out to plodders , it's because he's not good enough and he's exposed , when Bell gets out to them "it just happens". I actually agree that if Nick doesn't rediscover his form he should not play in the Ashes series and if it started tomorrow he'd not be in my side. I also agree with the balance of the side but then again Mr Bell (in the last year by and large) hasn't exactly been urgent with his SR either. My point is that you (+ others) seem to have different rules for Bell and he never has his place questioned in the media. When Nick is in hopeless form he should be outed (forget about the 2 tons he scored vs NZ when Sky were talking more about his place in the side than the games) but when Bell is in similar form , we should remember his golden summer in 2011 - even though it does not count for anything. BTW Omar Nizam just mentions his GF. You were just putting 2+2 together to make 5

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | June 1, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    @JG2704 Not sure who made you the forum police but I was simply making a point that he was suggesting that his grandad was good so give him a chance. I think if you read it again you'll see that is the point he is making.

    Just because you average well in County Cricket doesn't mean you can cut it in test cricket (Hick, et al). I've never said he shouldn't have had a chance, just that he's had it and that balance of the top order isn't there due to his pace of batting and it's obvious he is not good enough. How many runs did Chopra score last year and not get a chance (I don't think he's good enough either though)?

    You obviously have an issue with Bell (I disapointed in the way he seems to find ways to get out at the minute) but if you can't see he is world class (and his average is to) I suspect we're wasting our time debating. I won't be coming back to this forum now, suspect I'll see you on some pages when the Ashes start and Compton (if he's playing) proves me right.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | June 1, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    There are two solutions send him in the middle order and Root will open or it is coaches's duty to tell him score fast. Blocking is good but rotating strike is excellent. and also every player is having good days & bad days but big event don't want bad days player. Recently when i saw Indian CT squad without Ganbhir, Sehwag, very strange no Yuvraj then i realize big event no excuse of bad form or days.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 31, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    @Pyketts on (May 31, 2013, 19:29 GMT) I see in your response to Omar Nizam that you basically just disregard others viewpoints if they don't match up to yours. He says "If he becomes half the player his grandfather was.." which is basically paying a compliment to his grandfather .. and you respond with a jibe about him playing for Arsenal. Sorry , but Strauss retired and the openers spot became available and Nick was leagues above anyone else in the 2012 domestic averages so why should he not be have been given a chance?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 31, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    @Pyketts - My point re listing those bowlers is not a moot point at all. You said that Compton was exposed by average bowlers - your words , not mine. So when these mediocre bowlers get Compton out - he is exposed , but when they get Bell out - it can happen to anyone? You're still saying about Nick scoring his runs on the flat tracks which is rubbish. Yes he's off form at the moment but when Bell is off form (as he has been most of the time since India 2011) he is still world class. His world class didn't do England any good when he averaged 8.5 in UAE did it. I actually did post something (which either didn't get published or disappeared) which basically said that if the Ashes started next week then Nick should be dropped and basically his Ashes place would depend on his form back at Somerset. On the same post I said that Root opening might not be a bad thing anyway as he opens for Yorks anyway and he would help up the tempo at the start of an inns.

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | May 31, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    @Omar Nizam what a strange post. I understand his grandad also played football for Arsenal do you think he should get a chance there as well just in case he's as good??!! There are plenty of sporting greats who's children/grandchildren never made it.

    Compton playing freely is still a very slow scoring, average cricketer.

    If he has an international career than spans more than 40 tests and he averages above 40 I will happily eat humble pie (@JG2704, I will be the first to say you were right). Suspect it will be no pie for me.

  • POSTED BY on | May 31, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    The England Think Tank would be fools to drop Nick Compton. If he goes on to be half as great as his grandfather, English cricket will be all the more better off. The reason for the media's overbearing interest in him is not so much the weight of runs he's scored in county cricket to get into the England team, but rather the weight of the Compton name itself. Ben Hutton never played Test cricket, nor did Rohan Gavaskar, and both of them had a grandfather and father respectively who were greats. Nick Compton must be persisted with, and he needs to be allowed to play freely.

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | May 31, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    @JG2704 sorry I don't go back and read all of your posts.

    Let me make it nice and short Compton is an average cricketer, Bell is world class. How does Bell average in the mid 40's over a number of years if he isn't? Also, surely you're not suggesting that the NZ attack is anything more than average? Any bowler can get a batsman out so yours is very much a moot point.

    Note you don't address the point of the lack of balance in the top order, assume this is because I'm correct on this one and it is a problem for England. Maybe I could have your thoughts on this one?

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 31, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Nick's technique & temperament is very good which is now very rare to see hardly in any batsman. In test matches Technique & Temperament is more important than FC stats. NZ tour was an opportunity to try Root or any other player for opening. But just before Ashes dropping Nick or promoting Root is having risk. The problem with Nick is he is very slow scorer at least he has to rotate the strike with Cook with singles & doubles.Cook, Root, Trott, KP, Nick, Bell, Prior, Swann, Tremlett/Bresnan, Finn, Jimmy.

  • POSTED BY Crazy.Frog on | May 31, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    I don't like the batting style of Compton. His batting is very slow which put more pressure on the team. Compton is very ideal for 90s cricket.Atherton and Stewart was replaced by Trescothick & Strauss which is the best combination (IMO) in modern cricket. Atherton was also slow but he has the true class and once he played 30-40 ball then looks very solid. Nick is more like A.Prince. Compton should bat in the middle order, if did't replace by someone like J.Taylor, Carberry, Jimmy Adams, Bopara.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 31, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    Would also say that none of our batsmen have shone in the last 2 series so I say they should all play whatever CC matches are available to them Re comments re Bell.Since India 2011 he's had a very mixed time of it. Vs UAE he was the worst of the batsmen and when you see how bad the rest were that takes some doing. Vs SL he scored a 50 and looked in good nick for that knock but did not see the job through in that inns. In WI he was the best averaging player and saw Enghome after losing early wickets in 1st test. Vs SA he had an at best mediocre series.Vs India he had a horrible series but played a superb knock in the final test.In both NZ series he played one inns of note which if you're praising Bell you'd say he helped save the test but it could also be said that he got out tamely and left Prior with the tail for 30 overs. He won't be dropped anyway but if Bell wasn't dropped after/during UAE then they are showing different standards to Nick if they drop him now

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | May 30, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    @JonathanJonoLane- I am inclined to agree with you on that point. I think Saeed Aajmal destroyed Ian Bell on our tour to the UAE. In the last Ashes series Bell was in tremendous form and was looking to score as soon as he came to the crease. His top form continued in the home series against India (although against a woeful side it must be said). Following the UAE tour after Ajmal ruined him with the doosra, he has played the occasional turgid, gritty innings but has not torn up a series, or even looked capable of doing so. IMO the negative hype surrounding Compton is unfair and it looks to have really affected him mentally. However it is something that will increase ten fold in an ashes series and if he is still letting the adverse media publicity affect him come July time maybe we should think of a replacement. Should be an interesting period of county cricket coming up. I have a horrible feeling that KP will come back and be a complete flop. Fingers crossed I am wrong.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    England should (and to be honest, I think will) continue with Compton. He is a very good batsman. He has proved that in county cricket and in his first few test matches. He is a new player and is getting used to test cricket, he has had 3 poor test matches, yes. But 4 test matches ago he completed his 2nd century in as many matches. He hasn't lost his great technique or temperament, but his confidence. That stems from the constant Joe Root as opener talk. Tell him now that he will start the Ashes, let him go back to county cricket for Somerset and it will free him up. He will score a few runs and discover his love for the game again and get his confidence back up. If and when he gets to the Ashes I'm certain he will come back stronger. However I am starting to wonder myself if he will become the new Mark Ramprakash. I really hope not because he is a class batsman but I continue to wonder.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 30, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (May 30, 2013, 17:59 GMT) To call Compton average is debatable. To call him a whacker basically shows your lack of knowledge

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | May 30, 2013, 22:01 GMT

    @Pyketts on (May 30, 2013, 8:38 GMT) Hang on a minute. The other day you said "Quite simple, Compton out as he doesn't have the class to play test match cricket, he's just a good county cricketer who has scored a lot of runs on a flat track" and on the same thread you were suggesting Bell as captain of England. I responded to the Compton scoring runs on flat tracks by saying that he scored runs all over the place last season - check it all out for yourself if you don't believe me. Re Bell as captain - on this thread you're saying Nick has been exposed by average bowlers. You mean like Southee,Wagner,Martin and Williamson - coincidentally the same bowlers who have got your choice of Eng captain out (oh sorry Williamson never got Nick out). So you're saying one batsman is exposed by mediocre bowlers but the other who has been dismissed by the same mediocre bowlers should be captain? Yeah that makes sense

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 30, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    @kallis57 on (May 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT) Whenever i questioned on Broad selection he always give me answers with lots of wickets. The only problem is Broad is inconsistent you never know when he will shine.

  • POSTED BY Captainman on | May 30, 2013, 19:28 GMT

    People are harsh on him. He scored 2 centuries against New Zealand and is a bit out of form. I think he is performing badly because of the amount of 'pressure' he is getting and he knows that very well. Leave Compton alone and tell him straight up that he will be in the Ashes squad so that pressure will ease a lot for him and can deliver just watch. If he does fail in the first 5 Ashes matches then you can drop him. No need to start dropping players when the team is in rhythm now.

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | May 30, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    Compton is an average player. He may have a great last name but that ain't good enough to make it to the top. He shouldn't have even made it to the Indian tour squad IMO. A county whacker is all that he is. Give me Ian Bell over this chump any day.

  • POSTED BY blanchot on | May 30, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    As was pointed out on the Switch Hit podcast Root is having a ball lower down the order and the added pressure of suddenly opening in an Ashes series might undo some of that early enthusiasm. The issue for me is Compton going back to a county side which is woefully underperforming and, as a consequence, bereft of confidence. Compton needs to score "big runs," as Flower put it, but whether he can achieve this in a side which has yet to register a championship win this season is a pretty significant question. It'll go one of two ways, either Compton's county return galvanises a struggling Somerset with him scoring runs or else he finds himself in a dressing room where everybody is down and anxious about the early season form, thereby heaping even more pressure on his shoulders and, as a result, causing that run of relatively poor personal batting form to intensify to the detriment of both county and country.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | May 30, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Compton needs to loosen up a lot and score much quicker so that he does not look like someone the home fans want out. Firstly he needs to consider that failing at test cricket if he has is hardly failure in life. Seriously having just got there is in itself an incredible accomplishment. And he has two centuries. If he never plays another test he can be philosophical. Only one person can be Roger Federer if you like. If he is less intense about his place anyway he might play better. I think it was Gower who in 1985 was in total collapse form wise and eventually just thought 'what the hell.I might just as well go out and enjoy myself.' He caught a very good catch early in the international season and applied his new philosophy and ended up the series highest scorer just by letting his spirit loose. Hussein had some good advice for Compton when he said he should leave cricket alone for a week. A holiday on a beach,maybe.

  • POSTED BY whoster on | May 30, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Unless Compton really struggles for Somerset over the next few weeks, I think he should be retained as Cook's opening partner for The Ashes. It's been painful watching Compton's lack of form, but he's got the determination to battle through it. I can understand the clamour for Root to open, but why move him when he's playing so well? Of course, if Compton doesn't score runs for Somerset, then he should be left out. England have progressed in recent years because they stand by players, and so long as the team is playing well, changes should only be made when a player is very obviously struggling. You can't have every player in a side playing well all the time, and there are times where winning sides can afford to carry passengers. Assuming Compton plays well over the next month, he should be given the first couple of Ashes Tests. If he continues to struggle, then a change should be made. I'm hopeful Nick Compton will repay the selectors if they stand by him.

  • POSTED BY trav29 on | May 30, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    @jackiethepen

    yeah bell's record for the last three series of an average just over 30 and a strikerate of the same has been really impressive hasn't it ...

    hes lucky that there are less established players with equally as big question marks over them atm

    hes turned from an attractive strokeplayer who gave fantastic balance to the top 6 coming in after a solid top 3 to someone who looks like he doesn't know where the boundary is

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | May 30, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Compton is a fine player and has deserved his chance. But I can't help feeling that whatever the NZ seamers did to tie him up in knots, the Aussie seamers will do better. A batting order of Cook, Root, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow and Prior is simply stronger looking at this stage. It doesn't mean Compton is dropped for good - he can be next in the queue, and ready to step in if anyone is injured/loses form. Pressure is unpleasant, but it is something he will have to get used to at the highest level - every one of England's established batsmen has faced the most intense media scrutiny at some point, and come through it.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | May 30, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    I'm amazed that the likes of Jono Lane can go around accusing Bell of not scoring runs when England are in a pickle. Bell has been doing that for a long time and is now the stand-out backs-to-the-wall go-to player. Six hour stint recently in Auckland!!! Does Lane just not watch England? Not Cape Town in 2009? Not the Gabba in 2010? The Oval in 2012? Nagpur? among many? The row about Compton v Root has been sullied by the campaign orchestrated by the Daily Telegraph to get Compton ousted - thus opening with Root and leaving a spot for Bairstow. As the campaign was underway before the NZ Series home and away, Compton's two tons should have put it to bed. Not a bit of it. The aim frankly is to get Bairstow into the side. The ethics of this are surely wanting. Compton must have been affected by calls for him to be dropped by pundits of a major newspaper. Whatever happened to objective assessment? There are good reasons to prefer a different style of opener but undue pressure is not right.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    They need to drop Compton AND Bairstow to make room for Pietersen and Carberry. Cook Carberry Trott Pietersen Root Bell -- perfect balance of strokemaking and solidity.

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | May 30, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    @ Jonathan Jono Lane what is your issue with Bell, you came up with some pointless statistics in your last post about him (something to do with his average against NZ compared to Compton's) which proved nothing. The "Bell never shows up when it's tough" line has been disproven on a number of occassions now so it's time to move on.

    Bell is having a tough time but he is proven world class, Compton is no more than a county cricketer scoring runs on flat tracks at Somerset.

    If I had the choice I'd rather have Cleggy or Foggy rather than Compo (never thought I'd get to reference Last of the Summer Wine in a post).

  • POSTED BY RichardG on | May 30, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    There is little point in debating this right now. Let's see a) how KP's injury heals, b) how Compton fares in the games between now and the first test, and c) how Bairstow's form goes too.

    I love Jonny Bairstow, and England really do need a top six batsman who can score at a pace should KP be out injured, but if Compton refinds his form then he should retain his place for the first test. However, you cannot bat as poorly as he did in the test just gone and have no ramifications form that. He was as poor as I've ever seen an England top six batsman, and that's saying something!

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Compton's last two series versus NZ have been better than Bell's, why not drop Bell? Bell very rarely scores when England are in a pickle. The guy is wonderful to watch, but I'm sick of seeing him squander his opportunities when he's got 30. IB scored one 50 in the last two series, at least Compo got two 100's. If he can regain his confidence before the ashes, we should keep him instead of Bell. Meanwhile, Root will benefit from a few more series in the middle order. Whenever he faced the 2nd new ball in this last series he was out straight away, which isn't a great sign for a new opener.

  • POSTED BY kallis57 on | May 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    AKS286 Is there a logical reason why you would have omitted Broad? Even more amusing apparently for Bresnan. Broad is a better bowler batsman and fielder than Bresnan. I assume you had just forgotten him.

  • POSTED BY kallis57 on | May 30, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    I have to say I think Compton looks like the odd man out in the Ashes 11 assuming KP is fit. Even when he scores runs he does it painfully slowly which does potentially put pressure on Cook who is currently our best batsman. Part of the problem for me is that he is not a natuaral opener and rarely batted there for Somerset. A natural opener while protecting his wicket tends to capitalise on any loose stuff in the first few overs because they expect it. Cook recently is great at putting away any bad balls he receives, which makes bowlers nervous. If you can get yourself into a groove bowling at a bloke intent on survival that is perfect for a bowler, especially an inexperienced attack such as the Aussies are bringing. The other issue is that Compton has proved fallible against left arm over bowling and the Aussies have 2 decent bowlers of this type plus Pattinson and Siddle - its not Lillee and Thompson but it is a decent seam attack, although if I was them I would have picked Johnson

  • POSTED BY 64blip on | May 30, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Root can score big hundreds and doubles but he's going to get less chances from 6, so a move up the order is inevitable. I wonder if Root's amazing early season form affected Compton? He must know Root is his eventual successor and seeing the runs pile up like that maybe left him feeling only a hundred each time would do. It's still in Compton's hands though.

  • POSTED BY Pyketts on | May 30, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Totally agree with @HatsforBats, Compton just doesn't have the class and has already been found out by some average bowlers never mind world class ones.

    Also, with him in the balance of the top order is wrong as there isn't an agressive player who can take the game to the opposition. You can't drop either Cook or Trott so Compton is the odd man out.

    @Cricketbadger, Cook was young when he had his issues (and a decent record behind him), KP is always going to have some technicial issues but he brings so much to team they won't drop him. Compton is 29 and I don't think it's a dip in confidence, I just don't think he's good enough.

  • POSTED BY CricketBadger on | May 30, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    I hope they keep the faith with Compton, he does have a sound technique but like all players he's having a dip in form and his confidence has taken a beating and his judgement has suffered. Pietersen had the angled bat thing the other year and Cook had the LBW issue as his head moved past the line of the ball... but it was remedied by a bit of practice and they got back to their best. Hopefully with Compton, its not like Morgan when he lost his mojo, with that ever increasing dipping trigger movement that meant his wasn't steady as the ball was delivered.

    At least he sticks around to take the shine off the ball and, although it heaps pressure on Cook to score the runs, he has built good partnerships with Cook and set a good platform for Trott to grind out more runs and Pietersen to to take the game away.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | May 30, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    At the moment I would prefer Bairstow (for all sorts of reasons - not least the balance of the type of batsmen in the team ) - but good luck to Compton. He has worked really hard to get to this point.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 30, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I said it before now again Compton is the weak point of POMS. His slow start also put Eng under pressure & Cook looks like confused whether to score or stand. Root as an opener excellent choice but Root is doing great job in the middle order so experiment in Ashes is not an good idea. when Eng will 3-0 then then they should try Root as an opener. Difficult to find an opener at this stage or J.Taylor as an option. CooK, Taylor/Compton, Trott, KP, Bell, Root, Prior, Swanny, Bresnan/Tremlett, Finn, Anderson.

  • POSTED BY DustyBin on | May 30, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    you have to do what the opposition would least like. If I'm a nervous Aus opening bowler, I'd be happier bowling at Compton than Root. With Root after an hour you could look up & it's 68/0. With Compton it may be 29/1. Still unconvinced by Bairstow over Taylor, but even less convinced (despite the propaganda) that they'll be facing bowlers any better than NZ's during the Ashes.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Much as I like Compo (being a Somerset fan and all), while the heart wants him to stay in the team my gut feeling is that England will gamble on Root opening and keep Bairstow in at 6. Pietersen coming back is massive, and with Trott regaining form at 3 England could afford to gamble. Cook looks in great form, Prior is always in great form, and I think Bairstow and Root are the future. Compton is solid, make no mistake, but if you have to pick your best six ... unfortunately he wouldn't be in mine, and the sad thing is that from the way he's played you get the feeling he knows it. His grit was perfect for India and he was rewarded for his efforts with a couple of tons in NZ, but I think he might have played his last Test. The biggest area of concern for me is Bell. I think he's a great player, but he's not firing with any consistency anymore against weak teams. I think longer term his place probably belongs to James Taylor.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    Keep him in! Keep Him in! Australia needs you...;)

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | May 30, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    I think one problem is that, even if Compton does well in those 12 innings, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll do well in the Ashes. It may well be that he just had a purple patch at domestic level but is not quite good enough to succeed at international level. Ravi Bopara is another who comes to mind like that. He scored a few hundreds early on but just hasn't really looked like an international player since. I wish him the best and hope that he is up to it, but won't be shocked if he's not. I say this not having seen him play at domestic level, mind you.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | May 30, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    England have to ask themselves whether it is better for the team to keep a 29yr old journeyman or promote a promising and talented youth to open and slot in a aggressive stroke maker in to the middle order. It seems obvious to me. Personally, I think Root should open. He just looks right, he's no younger than Cook was when he debuted (and looks far more impressive), and most importantly he seems a better all-round player than Compton. A batting lineup of Cook, Root, Trott, KP, Bell, Bairstow, Prior, & Swann is very impressive. It would be harsh for Compton to get the chop (and I can't see the "safety first" England management doing it just yet) but no player owns their spot, they have to continually earn it. It will be interesting to see what happens if Compton has a poor county stint before the Ashes.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 30, 2013, 0:21 GMT

    There is a danger in selecting an older player whose recent form is much better than his form throughout his career (unlike, say, Mike Hussey, whose form throughout his career was uniformly good). A good season is just that; sometimes players get into a zone and perform above their usual standard for a while. When they inevitably drop out of that zone again, they go back to being what they were, decent players but lacking the class to take the next step up.

    Watching Nick Compton struggling against NZ- not just getting out cheaply, but staying in for a fair time without ever looking set- it was difficult to think that this might not be the case with him. His great, and uncharacteristic, 2012 form has left him and he's back to being a journeyman county cricketer, which is what he's been his whole career.

    No reflection on him; he's a nice guy and a hard worker. He just isn't test class. Very few players are.

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | May 29, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    Fair enough, but it's really a straight choice between Compton and Bairstow, and looking at their records, Bairstow has played 8 tests and really only done well in 2 of them (and 1 moderate one, I suppose), whereas Compton in his 9 tests has really only failed 2 or 3 times. So with the added risk of messing up Root by making him open, I'd definitely stay with Compton. Of course, his games during June will be a big factor too.

  • POSTED BY trav29 on | May 29, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    don't know if this is just a recent thing but the technical issue they showed during this series where he is back on his heels when the ball is being delivered is a huge problem imo

    look at all sports where footwork and balance is required and you will always see players on the balls of their feet so they are best able to react to what happens , at least a couple of comptons dismissals were a result of being late on a shot which has to be tied to this

    and any flaw like this gets more exposed the higher the quality of the bowling you face and the extra pace a couple of the aussies have will cause him problems unless he gets his feet moving better

  • POSTED BY trav29 on | May 29, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    don't know if this is just a recent thing but the technical issue they showed during this series where he is back on his heels when the ball is being delivered is a huge problem imo

    look at all sports where footwork and balance is required and you will always see players on the balls of their feet so they are best able to react to what happens , at least a couple of comptons dismissals were a result of being late on a shot which has to be tied to this

    and any flaw like this gets more exposed the higher the quality of the bowling you face and the extra pace a couple of the aussies have will cause him problems unless he gets his feet moving better

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | May 29, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    Fair enough, but it's really a straight choice between Compton and Bairstow, and looking at their records, Bairstow has played 8 tests and really only done well in 2 of them (and 1 moderate one, I suppose), whereas Compton in his 9 tests has really only failed 2 or 3 times. So with the added risk of messing up Root by making him open, I'd definitely stay with Compton. Of course, his games during June will be a big factor too.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 30, 2013, 0:21 GMT

    There is a danger in selecting an older player whose recent form is much better than his form throughout his career (unlike, say, Mike Hussey, whose form throughout his career was uniformly good). A good season is just that; sometimes players get into a zone and perform above their usual standard for a while. When they inevitably drop out of that zone again, they go back to being what they were, decent players but lacking the class to take the next step up.

    Watching Nick Compton struggling against NZ- not just getting out cheaply, but staying in for a fair time without ever looking set- it was difficult to think that this might not be the case with him. His great, and uncharacteristic, 2012 form has left him and he's back to being a journeyman county cricketer, which is what he's been his whole career.

    No reflection on him; he's a nice guy and a hard worker. He just isn't test class. Very few players are.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | May 30, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    England have to ask themselves whether it is better for the team to keep a 29yr old journeyman or promote a promising and talented youth to open and slot in a aggressive stroke maker in to the middle order. It seems obvious to me. Personally, I think Root should open. He just looks right, he's no younger than Cook was when he debuted (and looks far more impressive), and most importantly he seems a better all-round player than Compton. A batting lineup of Cook, Root, Trott, KP, Bell, Bairstow, Prior, & Swann is very impressive. It would be harsh for Compton to get the chop (and I can't see the "safety first" England management doing it just yet) but no player owns their spot, they have to continually earn it. It will be interesting to see what happens if Compton has a poor county stint before the Ashes.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | May 30, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    I think one problem is that, even if Compton does well in those 12 innings, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll do well in the Ashes. It may well be that he just had a purple patch at domestic level but is not quite good enough to succeed at international level. Ravi Bopara is another who comes to mind like that. He scored a few hundreds early on but just hasn't really looked like an international player since. I wish him the best and hope that he is up to it, but won't be shocked if he's not. I say this not having seen him play at domestic level, mind you.

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    Keep him in! Keep Him in! Australia needs you...;)

  • POSTED BY on | May 30, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Much as I like Compo (being a Somerset fan and all), while the heart wants him to stay in the team my gut feeling is that England will gamble on Root opening and keep Bairstow in at 6. Pietersen coming back is massive, and with Trott regaining form at 3 England could afford to gamble. Cook looks in great form, Prior is always in great form, and I think Bairstow and Root are the future. Compton is solid, make no mistake, but if you have to pick your best six ... unfortunately he wouldn't be in mine, and the sad thing is that from the way he's played you get the feeling he knows it. His grit was perfect for India and he was rewarded for his efforts with a couple of tons in NZ, but I think he might have played his last Test. The biggest area of concern for me is Bell. I think he's a great player, but he's not firing with any consistency anymore against weak teams. I think longer term his place probably belongs to James Taylor.

  • POSTED BY DustyBin on | May 30, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    you have to do what the opposition would least like. If I'm a nervous Aus opening bowler, I'd be happier bowling at Compton than Root. With Root after an hour you could look up & it's 68/0. With Compton it may be 29/1. Still unconvinced by Bairstow over Taylor, but even less convinced (despite the propaganda) that they'll be facing bowlers any better than NZ's during the Ashes.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 30, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I said it before now again Compton is the weak point of POMS. His slow start also put Eng under pressure & Cook looks like confused whether to score or stand. Root as an opener excellent choice but Root is doing great job in the middle order so experiment in Ashes is not an good idea. when Eng will 3-0 then then they should try Root as an opener. Difficult to find an opener at this stage or J.Taylor as an option. CooK, Taylor/Compton, Trott, KP, Bell, Root, Prior, Swanny, Bresnan/Tremlett, Finn, Anderson.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | May 30, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    At the moment I would prefer Bairstow (for all sorts of reasons - not least the balance of the type of batsmen in the team ) - but good luck to Compton. He has worked really hard to get to this point.