Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 1st day June 26, 2013

Compton given Ashes lifeline


Nick Compton's hopes of featuring in the Ashes have been thrown a lifeline by the England selectors after it was confirmed that he will play for Worcestershire against the touring Australians in a four-day match starting next Tuesday.

On his 30th birthday, 48 hours after he was omitted from the England team to play Essex in the pre-Ashes warm-up match, Compton's defiant 81 for Somerset against the Australians made plain his fervent desire not to be left out. The England selectors have proved they remain interested in fulfilling Compton's wish by facilitating his availability to face the tourists for a second time ahead of the first Investec Ashes Test, which begins on July 10.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the England management have requested Somerset release Compton from Friends Life t20 duty - a competition in which he was not necessarily going to feature anyway - and that Worcestershire have agreed to find room for him in their side.

While Geoff Miller, the national selector, had stated that England saw Joe Root as "currently the best opening partner" for Alastair Cook when announcing the England squad to play Essex, the move to involve Compton in next week's tour match is a sign that the door has not been closed on him entirely.

At Taunton, with Miller's words ringing in his ears, Compton began unsteadily against James Pattinson's outswing but reeled off a string of pleasant shots in an innings that fell 19 runs short of a timely century when Michael Clarke took an agile, juggled catch from the spin of Nathan Lyon. Compton was steely in approach but did not appear restricted by his intensity, as in recent times, scoring his runs at a brisk pace off front and back foot.

As telling as any of Compton's aggressive strokes was a moment of defensive composure to dig out a Mitchell Starc yorker that was screeching towards leg stump before his bat jammed down. Starc's subsequent success with the second new ball showed how sharp Compton had needed to be at that moment.

Lyon's dismissal of Compton was deserved, for it was the offspinner who had come closest to defeating him earlier when a beseeching lbw appeal was declined. Compton had offered no shot to an offbreak that spun back from outside the line of the stumps.

When dismissed Compton swished his bat in frustration, as much at Clarke's successful juggle as missing a century. But even as he trudged off the ground, perhaps fearing that the England career he had won for himself little more than six months ago was slipping inexorably away, moves were afoot to give him another chance against Australia's bowlers.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    @Bobby - Hildreth, a little like David Sales before him, has played brilliantly when no one has been looking. Personally I think he's a far better player than Compton, who, much as I like him, just had a golden season last year. Hildreth never quite managed to get that buzz about him that the selectors notice. A shame, because he's a fine player, but personally I'd pick James Taylor above any of the players being talked about at the moment. Shamefully England's forgotten man. However, in five years time England's line up could look something like Cook, Root, Taylor, Hales, Bairstow, Rashid, Buttler, Woakes, J.Overton, Finn, Dockrell.

  • John on June 27, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 27, 2013, 8:27 GMT) I'm not sure re Nick. I think he's as deserving as one of the established players but he looked horrible in the last series. Personally I'd rather he played for Somerset but that's just selfish. Since that series his form has neither been good enough to demand his inclusion or to bad enough to say being dropped is the right move

  • ESPN on June 27, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    I don't think this innings from Watson has answered any questions. His problem has always been that he can only score in 4's and 6's. that's why his ODI record is so much better than his test record and why he has so such a poor conversion rate of 50's into 100's even when opening in tests. Scoring 80 in 4's out of 90 shows that he will have the same issues.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Why hasn't James Hildreth name not mentioned and even considered by the ECB Selectors? He is only 28 years old and has scored 28 centuries in FC Cricket with an Ave of 42????

  • Daryl on June 27, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    Well done Watto on hitting 90, hope some of Boofs confidence in you pays off This is your last chance so make the most of it.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Essex could do with Compton, Jones and Hildreth against ENGLAND XI .. and a couple of spinners .. Oh for Hobbs, East and Acfield .. and Boyce, Lever and Turner .. (I'm getting old and grumpy ..)

  • H on June 27, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    @chicko1983 much as I rate Pattinson (and I'm an England fan), it's worth pointing out that the average of 15 is skewed a little by the 7-36 he got against the Scots. 2-104 against the Irish suggests calling him "The best quick bowler in the world" might be a tad premature. Still, he's definitely a quality bowler; any seamer who ends their first tour of India with 9 wickets at 27 (and having watched that series, I thought he bowled better than those figures suggest) shouldn't be underestimated.

  • Hanson on June 27, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    While I'm on the subject of heading back to the Shield, might also be a good time to let Usman go as well. What's he done lately?

  • Hanson on June 27, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Nothing against Ed Cowan personally - he seems like a good bloke who's articulate enough to face a camera, and that's a rarity in this squad - but I think it's time to let him go back to the Shield. If his stint in County has proved one thing it's that he's never going to bag the big scores, even against a weaker attack.

  • Bob on June 27, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    All this talk about plodders opening the innings in tests.. seems to ignore the fact that in 50over cricket the top three are Cook Bell and Trott.. none of whom exactly set off at supersonic speed... So if that sort of scoring rate is good enough for limited overs, it's surely ok for tests.. My guess is that since one batsman of those who played against NZ has to make way for Pietersen... the selectors have decided that it's most likely to be Compton.