England retrieve Nick Compton from the freezer

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Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

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


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  1. the implicit reason for booting out Compton was that he was a slow-coach & england thought that they couldn’t afford 2 slow-coaches (Cook + another plodder) at the top, also they were smug that they had the insurance of Trott

    That Trott-insurance-policy is totally useless piece of paper now & England still might go with Hales-Cook, ironically it is Compton who might now fill in Trott’s role having failed the audition for Strauss’s role earlier

    1. The other thing was that they thought he was crying off fielding one time, due to a bit of a misunderstanding regarding an injury. They may have eventually understood that it was a misunderstanding, but it seems they didn’t forgive the resultant argument.

    2. my 2 paisa of opinion on this is that,

      a) due to nature of English conditions, England’s 1-3 all are usually capable of playing in any position from 1-3 whereas in other teams the 1-drop is the most technically equipped batter (Dravid/Pujara) or the best (Kohli/Ponting)

      b) opening & captaining in test cricket is a tough job and I dont give much of a chance to Cook unless he plans to totally focus only on his batting & ignore captaincy altogether ala Azharuddin

      taking two points above together, Cook should play 1-down below Hales-Taylor/Hales-Compton

      Hales-Taylor has the bonus of confusing the lengths of bowlers similar to successful partnerships such as Hayden-Langer, Sehwag-Gambhir or even Katich-Watson

  2. I attended a ‘thing’ recently which had Mike Brearley, Ed Smith, and the hard-to-pronouce cricket journalist Scyld Berry. Amongst the topics discussed was at what point to drop a player and replace him – Smith in particular was suggesting that in general declining players get dropped later than they deserve, as there is always the hope that they will return to their old form.

    It was notable, however, that the assumption was that a declining player would be replaced by a young gun* on the rise, not by another player of middling quality. There’s a bit of a ‘grass is greener’ tendency amongst almost everyone who discusses England cricket squads.

    *go for it

  3. Going with only one opener on the last tour didn’t work out too well, so this time they’re going to play three. Genius.

    I look forward to Hales scoring sod all, anyway.

    1. After today’s performance, I think we’re going to have to find a way to crowbar in another wicketkeeper again…

    1. Among the wristier innings we’ve ever seen. Wrong ethnicity for that that sort of description though. You’ve got to maintain the stereotypes.

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