Nicholas Richard Denis Compton
June 26, 1983, Durban, Natal, South Africa
Compo, Ledge, Cheser
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Hilton College, SA, Harrow School, Durham University
Grandson of the legendary Denis, Nick Compton had quite an act to emulate. He might not share his relation's ability to entertain with the bat - few ever have - but he made his own career as a strong-willed top-order batsman with a correct technique that was highly enough regarded to win England Test caps. As introspective as his grandfather appeared relaxed, he alternated between obsessive commitment and disillusionment when his England career faltered before entering what had become a predictable retirement at the end of 2018.
Selected to open the batting for England after a prolific domestic season in 2012, he didn't do too much wrong in nine Tests but England concluded Compton was not the man for the national side. His England career began in India in 2012. While his performances in a four-Test series in which England prevailed 2-1 were not a complete success, Compton's steady starts in spinning conditions left a feeling that he had potential to succeed. Just one half-century meant more was needed to cement his place in the side but he was kept on for the New Zealand tour and in the opening match in Dunedin made a second-innings century, a knock of immense determination. Another hundred in Wellington seemingly penned Compton into England's first-choice Test XI. But after a nervous time in the return series against the Black Caps, with much attention being placed on a strokeless innings at Headingley, Compton was dropped for the Ashes in part, at least, to accommodate Joe Root in an ill-fated experiment at the top of the order.
The attention placed on his supposedly inhibited approach made his return after two-and-a-half years, at 32, somewhat surprising and after a crisp and determined 85 in Durban in his comeback innings in the 2015 Christmas Test against South Africa, he failed to reach 50 in his other 12 knocks. The inevitability that he would be dropped once more after a dismal home Test series against Sri Lanka demotivated him and caused him to ask his county, Middlesex, for a leave of absence from the game. Middlesex spoke of a "challenging start to the 2016 season, both physically and mentally". There was talk of possible retirement, but he returned later in the season, although he played only a bit-part role in Middlesex's first Championship for 23 years.
Compton was raised in South Africa and honed an aptitude for sport, earning representative honours at tennis, football and hockey for Natal and holding down a single-figure golf handicap. He arrived in the UK as a teenager, attending Harrow School.
He played for England Under-19s in 2001-02 but took some time to break through into the Middlesex side. Three Championship matches in 2004 brought little return but when his chance finally came again at the start of 2006 he made the most of it. He kicked off with a maiden hundred in the first game against Oxford University - sharing a 192 opening stand with another famous grandson, Ben Hutton - and then hit a hundred against Kent in the first Championship match of the summer.
But he grew increasingly frustrated with what he perceived as a lack of opportunities and moved to Somerset ahead of the 2010 season. It was a productive decision and he became a consistent scorer in a strong top order but it was in 2012 that he really caught the attention, when he came within a whisker of scoring 1,000 runs before the end of May. He was denied by the weather at New Road but in a season ruined by rain he finished with 1,494 at 99.60. It was enough to earn him a call-up for England's tour to India, replacing the retired Andrew Strauss as opener despite batting at No. 3 for Somerset.
But most of 2013 and 2014 were also spent with Somerset. He carried on where he left off with 1,260 first-class runs at 45.00 and 1,034 at 43.08 respectively. Unfortunately for Compton, it seems the England selectors were no longer interested; a suspicion that was underlined when he was omitted from the Lions tour to South Africa that winter.
Struggling for equilibrium in the aftermath of the rejection, was allowed to leave Somerset with two years remaining of his contract in November 2014 and announced he would take a break from cricket to reassess his options and his future. He chose to continue his career at Middlesex, and duly passed 1,000 runs, albeit with an average below 40, and with England were still struggling to find support for Alastair Cook at the top of the order won another opportunity that few imagined he would get, taking his tally to 16 Test caps.
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