Back in 2013, we suggested that England couldn’t refreeze Nick Compton having already defrosted him (this makes fractionally more sense if you read the article). Turns out they did. They stuck him back and now they’re defrosting him for a second time. Nick Compton’s back in the fridge!
At least they know what he is this time. You extract a new player from the freezer – a Sam Robson, say – and there’s always a chance that while they looked like chilli con carne in the frosted opaqueness of the tupperware, they were actually just murky ham stock.
Nick Compton though – you know where you are with him. He’s been taken out once before and he was correctly labelled when he was put back. There’s no mystery. We’re not going to get a wonderful surprise, but nor will we get an unwelcome one.
We know what you’re thinking…
You’re thinking ‘that analogy was tortured and confusing the first time around – please don’t use it again’. Okay, we’ll draw a line under it now.
For all that getting thrashed in Australia in 2013-14 was the low point, we still see the application of boot to Compton’s arse as being the moment when a good England side got too cocky for its own good.
Here we had a new opener, finding his way, who had managed two Test hundreds in nine Tests. For most countries, in most eras, this would be good enough to warrant perseverance. It takes time to come to terms with Test cricket and opening is a tougher task than most.
But England thought they could do better. They thought they could get more. They also thought they could get more from Joe Root, despite the fact he was average 42 after 11 Test innings in the middle order.
So amid a groundswell of enthusiasm for Root as opener, Compton was culled. The decision temporarily knackered up Root and having rushed into what should have been the backup plan all along, England discovered they didn’t really have a viable Plan C. The upshot is that they’ve had a new opener for the start of every summer and winter since.
An alternate timeline
Who knows what would have happened had they stuck with Compton. Maybe things would have worked out worse. Or maybe he would have done well and would now be established in a more stable side.
We can’t know, but what seems clear to us is that the decision to drop him in the first place was symptomatic of a team that thought it could do no wrong; that thought constant improvement was inevitable.
Delusional times. Looking back, treading water would have been quite the achievement