Joe de vivre: The root to England's future
It seemed almost inevitable. From the moment he scored a composed 73 on debut at Nagpur, the shrewdest of judges, the harshest of critics and the most discerning of fans had Joe Root inked in at the top of the order for the next 10 years or so. That said, perhaps nobody expected it to happen quickly; it may seem a lifetime ago, but it was only recently that Nick Compton scored back to back centuries in New Zealand.
The fact that people don’t seem to remember that is for two reasons.
The first is that as far as cricketers are concerned, recent failures are remembered more than the successes a few short months before said failures.
The second is that you don’t usually remember a Nick Compton innings. He has none of the elegance of an Ian Bell or the panache of a Kevin Pietersen. He does not have the unhurried yet organized air of a Jonathan Trott, nor does he inspire the I-want-to-hit-my-head-on-a-brick-wall feelings bowlers get while bowling to Alastair Cook. He isn’t a dasher; runs are eked out by him. Each delivery is not an event, it is an examination.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it proves that he wants to be there, that he doesn’t take it all for granted. However, there is a feeling that it is the very intensity that got him to the England side that consumes him. He wants to succeed too badly; survival seems his primary objective, as opposed to scoring runs.
Some will point to his technique; he seems very rigid at the crease and takes a short step forward with his front foot. That must be the problem then – he has such a rigid technique that he can’t seem to score any runs. It must have been another Nick Compton who scored 1191 runs at 99.25 in the County Championship last year.
His problems are temperamental. When we speak of temperament in cricket, we automatically think of those extravagantly talented players who look like they’re batting on another surface till they throw it all away. Nick Compton is another breed; he knows he isn’t extravagantly talented. He bats with a single-minded obsessiveness, and doesn’t throw it away. He wanted it too bad, he put too much pressure on himself, he absolutely had to succeed, and so he failed.