Somerset's Nick Compton cements role as England's Ashes opener with maiden Test century
England’s Nick Compton was both proud and relieved after the maiden Test century which has surely cemented his role as an Ashes opener this summer.
The 29-year-old Somerset batsman marked his fifth Test with a breakthrough innings, consolidation of his hard work in India before Christmas, as he and skipper Alastair Cook shared a record stand of 231.
Both made hundreds, the peerless captain his 24th for his country, to help right the wrongs of England’s first innings as the tourists battled their way to a hard-earned draw in Dunedin.
Compton, the grandson of England great Denis, had many reasons for satisfaction as he upheld a famous family tradition and vindicated the faith of Cook and coach Andy Flower.
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His knock of 117, one half of England’s highest-ever opening stand against the Kiwis, was proof to himself too that he is after all cut out for Test cricket. “It’s the biggest relief of my life. To get to this moment was something special,” said Compton, who was watched and later richly congratulated by his father, Richard.
“I never thought perhaps a year ago or even a couple of months ago I’d be sitting here right now with a hundred.
“I kept believing, but it’s been a long time. It’s a strange feeling, but I’m just delighted to be here.”
Compton and Cook, who scored 116, were both close to being run out as he tried to sneak his way to three figures with a series of tight singles.
Asked if he felt nervous over those final ten runs, he said: “Yes, definitely. I was holding back emotions as much as I could.
“I was itching to have a flap at the spinner before the new ball. But obviously there’s a bigger picture – drawing the game was the best result we could get – and that was something Cookie reminded me of.
“I managed to rein myself in and tried to hold my nerve. I’m going to cut myself some slack. There were a few nerves there, but I thought I handled those 90s pretty well.”
He got there in the end, in the penultimate over of the fourth day after almost six hours at the crease – a rewarding achievement he and his family will treasure.
Compton, whose sister Alex is paralysed after a car accident five years ago, said: “This means a huge amount. I had a few family issues back home, and I think just to give that to both my parents to take home with them is something I’ve worked towards for a long time.
“I’m proud that my dad’s here. It’s a great occasion.”
Following in his granddad’s footsteps will have obvious resonance with cricket followers the world over. But he said: “I’m not worried about that.
“It’s great to do something that my grandfather did, sure. But right now I’m happy for myself and obviously my family.”
Compton has silenced commentators who were calling for England to promote Joe Root from number six to open in his place. “I was well aware of that,” he added.
“Joe’s a fantastic talent, and he’s played brilliantly over the last year. You just know instinctively, what you need to do, and I felt like this innings was very important.
“I knew I needed to pull something out, and it was great that I could.
“I’ll probably look back and wonder how it happened. There’s a lot of people wishing you well, and you just don’t want to let yourself down.
“It’s something you’ve worked towards for a long time, and you really want to make the most of the opportunity.”