x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

England must retain Nick Compton as opener for Test series against New Zealand

Age and recent batting form have put Joe Root in contention for a slot at the top of the order, but now is not the time to write Nick Compton off.

Former England captain Mike Atherton believes Nick Compton has the capacity 'for batting like a Compton should'. Gareth Copley / Getty Images
Former England captain Mike Atherton believes Nick Compton has the capacity 'for batting like a Compton should'. Gareth Copley / Getty Images

Given the impression Joe Root has made since he first pulled on England colours, it must be tempting to say to Nick Compton, the incumbent opener: "It was nice to have you here, but please remove your clothes from that peg."

OK, it is a minuscule sample, but Root has a Test average of 93 – from one match in India – and an ODI one of 81.50. Statistics can be misleading, but the manner in which he has made those runs has led many to suggest a star is born already. Seven years Compton's junior, he represents the long-term option, too.

Another England player to take to international cricket with such immediate success in both formats was Kevin Pietersen. He arrived armed with a loud-hailer and a louder haircut, and has been surrounded by noise ever since.

Andy Flower, the England team director, is keen to dampen expectations over Root, though. "Everyone should keep a little calm about his prospects," Flower was quoted as saying. "No one knows exactly how he's going to do, not Joe, none of us."

Compton could be the wise choice in New Zealand when the Test series starts this week, anyway.

He has the capacity for "batting like a Compton should", as Mike Atherton neatly put it this winter when the Somerset opener led a small and successful run chase in India. Elegance is the exception to the rule, though. Usually he favours stodgy instead.

And in New Zealand, where the Test for opening batsmen against a new ball is rarely an easy one, that should be the best method.

pradley@thenational.ae

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