One of the weirdest send-offs of all time was when Steve Kirby, then playing for Yorkshire, sent Mike Atherton on his way with the immortal line: “I’ve seen better batsmen in my fridge.” This article is nothing to do with that, even though it is about keeping batsmen in the fridge.
Since the India tour, there has been something of a Joe Root love-in in sections of the British press and Nick Compton has been the unfortunate victim of this. Some have perceived Compton as a functional 29-year-old batsman who should make way at the top of the order for the flavour of the month. We were not of this opinion.
The Root cause
It’s not that we don’t think Joe Root is an excellent player. It’s more that we suspect him of being not quite so excellent as he is currently being portrayed. Column inches can be disproportionate to ability, particularly when you’re 22. Besides, it’s always good to have something in reserve.
Think of the relationship between fridges and freezers. Your fridge food needs using, but your freezer food can wait. Sometimes there’s nothing in the fridge, but you still need to eat. At this point, you head for the freezer.
There should always be something in the freezer.
England currently have Nick Compton and Joe Root in the fridge and Jonny Bairstow in the freezer. This is fine by us. Bairstow is nowhere near his expiration date. He’ll keep.
On the other hand, what would you do with Compton were you to move Bairstow to the fridge? He can’t go back in the freezer – he’s already been frozen once. You would have to put him in the bin.
Promising freezer meals
A lot of freezer meals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, particularly when you’ve put them in plastic takeaway boxes without labelling them. You think it’s lamb nihari, but once it’s defrosted, it turns out it’s just sweet potato mash.
Nick Compton might not be Michelin-starred, but he’s better than sweet potato mash.
Could you make this point a bit more clearly?
Basically, we’d say a young player unable to break into the side is liable to improve more than an older player who’s been discarded. Despite what some writers might think, England don’t have such an embarrassment of riches that they can completely discard promising Test batsmen – which is basically what would happen to Compton if he were dropped.
This is the nub of it: Nick Compton is a promising Test batsman. He scored an extraordinary volume of runs in county cricket at a time when no-one else in the entire country could lay bat on ball. You have to pay attention to exceptional feats like that and he’s done more since, even if it hasn’t been headline-grabbing.
In India, he didn’t score heavily, but batted a hell of a long time, which was valuable considering England have a recent history where far more experienced batsmen have frequently been contributing to batting collapses on foreign tours.
And now he’s hit his first Test hundred. Compton has batted on more difficult pitches than the one at Dunedin and faced more challenging attacks than New Zealand’s, but his first Test hundred was scored in the face of a less than optimal match situation and a fair degree of personal pressure resulting from what has been described above.
His mind appears strong. Nick Compton warrants his place in the fridge.18 Appeals
After nought and then one, Nick Compton is finally up and running for England. Well, he’s up and ambling at any rate, having made 64 runs off 162 balls in their second warm-up match. We entirely approve of this complete lack of urgency. Hopefully the majority of his six fours were thick edges down to third man.
England might not have The Wall at their disposal, but with Cook, Compton and Trott at the top of the order, they could potentially boast a series of very robust fences. Forget iPads, alternative fuel vehicles and nanotechnology, layered fencing is very much the future.
Compton is a man who will spend literally hours at a time leaving the ball in the nets. That’s what cricket’s about – standing there, not really doing much and continuing to not really do much for a very long time.4 Appeals
Not unless he’s down the order.
Some have suggested resting Alastair Cook because he made a hundred in the first warm-up match and so presumably doesn’t need the practice. Being as Nick Compton made a duck, it is felt that England might now want to see how Joe Root fares in order to give themselves an alternative.
This is wrong. For one thing, looking at other options this early on undermines a new player (Compton) when he should be supported. Also, Alastair Cook may have made a hundred, but England’s probable first Test opening partnership has made just two runs together. Ever.
You don’t decide a bloke can’t bat after he’s made a duck. If he makes a few ducks, okay, there’s a certain weight of evidence, but a single innings of nought offers virtually no information on its own.
A three-ball duck is curt and bland. A truly flawed batsman aspires to more than this. He hangs around for a few overs, plays himself in and then continues playing and missing and choosing the wrong shots even once his feet are moving and he’s familiar with the bowlers. That’s how you catch the eye and mark yourself out as a real top drawer incompetent.16 Appeals
We’d go for Nick Compton. He was born in Durban, so it would help Malcolm Conn be hilarious. Conn’s definitely a man abiding by our ‘repeat until funny’ rule when making jokes about England cricketers born in South Africa.
He’s not got there yet.
Another reason to go for Compton is that he’s a top order batsman who’s scored loads of runs in the last couple of years. We’re kind of old-fashioned – we like it when batsmen do that. It seems relevant, even if the person in question isn’t in some sort of development programme and is also over the age of 23.
They’ll probably go for someone younger who’s flavour of the month. That’s usually the way these things work. ‘Blood some young talent,’ people cry, as if talent fades by the year. Nothing against young batsmen, but we increasingly like our top order batsmen to be old and lumpen. Compton’s perfectly happy to hang around without really doing anything whatsoever. This is admirable.24 Appeals
We knew he was worth watching this season. He’s currently 19 not out off 88 balls against Nottinghamshire, including a boundary which we damn well hope was an accident.
That’s the stuff. That’s why we picked him. Few players have the iron will required to be less entertaining than a rain delay.27 Appeals
Right, let’s get this over with.
First, let’s restate the qualification criteria:
- Qualified to play for England
- No established internationals
- Playing in the first division of the County Championship
Think that’s it. There might be other things. Who knows? Presumably us, but we don’t like to scrutinise the workings of our own mind in case we damage it. We reserve the right to apply further criteria later on if we feel like it. (more…)21 Appeals
And you’d be right. We can’t really remember why we’ve included him now. We remember that there were a number of tricky decisions made when selecting this year’s ones to watch. Several cricketers we’re rather fond of missed the cut. How did Compton survive?
Never let it be said that no thought goes into this website. Equally, never let it be said that repeated instances of poor memory don’t play a large part as well.
We’ll be watching Nick Compton this season. Hopefully at some point it will become apparent why.16 Appeals
That’s what the BBC say. What image does ‘Everest record’ conjure up? Are you imagining a group of people playing cricket on the Gorak Shep Glacier at 5,184m? No? Well, you should be, because that’s what they’re doing. (Actually, we reckon it’s the Khumbu Glacier – Gorak Shep appears to be just a town. Take THAT non-researching BBC journalists.)
It’s not quite a speed ascent of the world’s tallest mountain, but if you’ve ever attempted any sort of physical exercise (even walking) at any kind of altitude, you’ll know that this will be no mean feat.
There are 18 people going. Nick Compton, Graham Napier, Mark Wagh, Ryan Cummins and Steve Patterson are the professionals involved. They’ll be playing six-a-side matches of five overs each – or rather they’ll have played, because they were due to be playing on the 5th. It’ll be bloody cold and we don’t know what the pitch will be like. It’s probably safe to say that it won’t be a greentop.
The 18th person on the expedition will be a Sherpa guide who, according to the Professional Cricketers’ association, will be going to ‘make up the numbers’. He won’t be showing you all where you’re going and stopping people from dying then? If our experience is anything to go by, he’ll be doing this in flip-flops, with a wardrobe on his back, singing merrily.
The trip is being made to raise money for the PCA Benevolent Fund. The Benevolent Fund is part of the PCA’s commitment in helping current and former players and their dependants in times of hardship.4 Appeals