Somerset340 and 133 for 2 (Compton 83*) lead Warwickshire 407 (Evans 138, Javid 133, Dockrell 6-96) by 66 runs
There can be few more obvious ways of demonstrating your loyalty to a county than by signing a new contract when they are threatened by relegation and then scoring important runs which may help avert that indignity.
Nick Compton may not have much idea what the future holds for him as far as England is concerned but he has finally pledged his domestic future to Somerset for the next three years. And on a blissful late summer evening in Edgbaston, the opener put his bat where his pen was by making an unbeaten 83 as Somerset fought back on the third day of their Division One game against Warwickshire.
By the close of play Compton's innings, which had included ten crisp, confident boundaries, had helped Somerset establish a 66-run lead going into the final day of this match. A draw is now favourite and those three points may be vital in helping Marcus Trescothick's team avoid relegation; but wherever the game is heading, it has at last become clear that Compton is moving nowhere.
Opting to stay at Taunton may not have been a straightforward decision for the opener. He had been courted by richer and rather more fashionable counties, Warwickshire included. However, he has finally decided to stay at the county where he has produced his best cricket and his play on Thursday evening was both carefree and conscientious, as if he could finally apply himself to the business of scoring runs.
Yet batting was not easy on the third evening. Jeetan Patel carried a continual threat and had a confident lbw shout against Compton turned down when the opener had made 63. By then the offspinner had dismissed Trescothick for the second time in the match when the Somerset captain edged him to Rikki Clarke. Nor could the Taunton hierarchy have been too ecstatic to see Chris Jones run himself out for 16 when attempting a third run to Clarke's arm in the penultimate over of the day.
But Compton remained steadfast and secure, and while he does so it is hard to see how Warwickshire will achieve the win they need to further their ambitions. A game may be "set up" of course, but it is surely unlikely that Somerset will risk three hard-won points unless the terms offered were judged to be very favourable to them.
By contrast to Compton's careful approach, Warwickshire's batting on the third day was rather profligate. Having lost their first three wickets for 38 runs on the second morning, they proceeded to lose their last seven for exactly 100 runs, leaving Laurie Evans and Ateeq Javid's 269-run stand as a monument amid much rubble.
Evans was the first to depart on Thursday, trapped on the crease by Peter Trego when he had added only eight to his overnight 130. Tim Ambrose was then beaten by an Alfonso Thomas delivery which nipped back off the seam and the dangerous Clarke was run out three balls later when Thomas got a touch to a drive from Javid.
That left Warwickshire on 327 for 6 but the 39-year-old Darren Maddy then batted with the good judgement of twenty summers, and if his colleagues had been able to support him, the home side may well have gained the 100-run or more advantage they craved instead of the 67-run lead for which they had to settle.
Indeed, Varun Chopra's team lost their last four wickets in 14 overs after lunch, the first of them when Javid pushed tentatively at George Dockrell and was caught behind for a career-best 133. Things got worse for them when both Keith Barker and last man Patel were stumped by Craig Kieswetter off Dockrell, dismissals which sandwiched No. 10 Tom Milnes holing out at mid-on, also off the spinner.
All three wickets were, to some degree at least, given away by the home side in a manner unbefitting champions. Dockrell, who had maintained a tight line for virtually the whole of his 43.4-over spell, collected 6 for 96 - nice figures if you can get 'em. Maddy, who had scarcely made an error, was left stranded on 40 and could have been excused for wondering if it was, after all, time to hang up his boots and take to coaching.