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Nick Compton: Average or Averages?

936   //    13 Mar 2013, 10:30 IST

They say first impressions last forever. But in sport, thats not always the case.

Coaches, team-mates and supporters often get a clear gut feeling whenever a newbie enters the fold. They could be a manager, player or owner, but that opening few displays at press conferences and the first moments on the field often make or break a club career.

Nick Compton of England leaves the field at the end of day four of the First Test match between New Zealand and England at University Oval on March 9, 2013 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Nick Compton of England leaves the field at the end of day four of the First Test match against New Zealand at University Oval on March 9, 2013 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

I considered this as I watched Nick Compton nudge his way over the line and to his maiden Test century against New Zealand at the weekend. Compton’s ton has cemented his place in the side for the remainder of the tour, into the English summer, and very possibly into the pole position for an Ashes opening spot. And yet I felt no nearer to believing in Compton than I did 100 runs earlier. He is not good enough to open the batting in an Ashes series.

His stats are more than adequate. Seasons of first-class dominance in the English domestic set-up finally left Compton as the first cab on the rank after the retirement of legendary statesman Andrew Strauss. It was an obvious and frankly unimaginative selection that no-one could argue with. Young Joe Root could have been thrown in at the deep end, a baptism of Test match fire in India that ended up being more flaccid than fierce, but he was preferred to jump into the middle order after a cringe-worthy experiment with the constantly out-of-breath Samit Patel. Compton got the gig, and did OK.

Whilst many argue that throwing Root in to open in foreign conditions could have shattered the psyche of an exciting prospect, anyone who has seen the Yorkshireman interviewed over the past couple of years have a fair retort in that he is clearly cut from Boycott/Vaughan-esque cloth, more than capable of seeing off Zaheer Khan and Co. Jonny Bairstow could have filled the void in the middle order, and England would have sported a young, bustling side ready to cut their teeth ahead of the back-to-back Ashes series.

Look, the man averages a cat hair above 40, and the flat track blockathon, vital in the context of England’s draw in Dunedin, has given the Middlesex stone-waller further opportunities to prove the doubters wrong. After all, he’s 29, and wont get another opportunity.

Nick Compton may well continue to ‘do alright’, but this England set-up deserves more. After his maiden Test match century, it sounds odd, but my gut feeling says that Nick Compton is not good enough to score an Ashes century. And if anyone disagrees, I’ll happily take a bet.

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