No desk for Nick Compton

Posted by
2 minute read

There’s been no announcement that Nick Compton has been dropped from England’s Test squad, but he isn’t in the squad to play a warm-up match against Essex and Geoff Miller, the national selector, said that Joe Root is “currently the best opening partner” for Alastair Cook.

It rather smacks of going into work only to find that you no longer have a desk. Compton appears to have been eased aside in the most casual manner. Then again, Somerset play Australia on Wednesday, so perhaps the selectors haven’t yet gone so far as smashing his personalised corporate mug.

Should Compton be dropped?

We don’t know about this. It seems a bit like unnecessary thinning of the herd.

When you drop a 30-year-old, it tends to be terminal. If they have any promise as an international batsman (and Compton does, because he’s twice scored hundreds) then you’d better be pretty damn sure that the player replacing him will thrive because you can’t go back.

Technically, you can go back, but you’d be going back to a player who’s basically been told he’s not good enough and who will therefore be a rather insecure imitation of the batsman you previously had in the team. You’d be settling for a player, rather than picking them and people pick up on that kind of message.

But Joe Root’s amazing, so this was always bound to happen

The English cricket media’s pretty insular and it can be a bit of an echo chamber when it comes to young players. Don’t get us wrong, Joe Root’s cracking, but it’s wise not to get too carried away early on. He’s played one Test against India and five against New Zealand. Remember Australia’s last tour when Ravi Bopara had just scored three hundreds in three innings against the Windies?

What if Joe Root doesn’t do well as an opener? What if he finally encounters a pothole in the previously immaculate tarmac A road he’s been travelling for most of his career? What then? What if Joe Root reveals a hitherto unsuspected inability to deal with poor performance and throws a massive wobbler which cannot be resolved by dropping him back down the order? If that happens England are two batsmen down at their next stock take, not one.

Embracing change

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t see any reason why Root won’t spend much of his career opening the batting for England. We just don’t see the rush. He’s playing well in the middle order and opening is a tougher job. While it’s a vote of confidence to promote him, it’s one that could be taken at any point in the next few years.

Root’s good and so’s Jonny Bairstow, but are England really so blessed with Test quality batsmen that they can discard someone who might very well make the grade if given a handful more matches? That’s basically what’s happening. Bairstow and all the other batsmen in the queue aren’t going anywhere, but Compton will be looking for a new career once he’s been pushed through the fire exit and into the staff car park.

Click here to read much the same point made via a white goods analogy.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. There’s a difference between dodging the drunken swing of an above average club batsman and dodging the seriously fast swing of a world class bowler.
    The ECB would want to hope they haven’t just dropped a mature player ready to flourish in the style of Mike Hussey. I honestly thought it would be Root or Bairstow that would make way for KP.

  2. This is more than a bit risky. Not only are you hoping that Bairstow will score more than Compton (debatable), you are hoping that even if that happens Root will score as many runs opening as he has been at 5 or 6.

    Although, its hard to deny that England could do with being a touch more attacking. A fair few times over the past 12-18 months, England have absolutely bossed the first day, been 240/2 or 265/3 at the end of the day, but then blown it with a silly hour the next day and ended up 320/7.

  3. The problem is that The Top Six is well defined by the last of its words. If you have seven players in your top six, the opposition captain is likely to notice, and might complain. So one of Root, Compton and Bairstow has to miss out, and exactly the same argument can be made about the risks of picking / dropping all of them. Any or all of them might be the new Don Bradman / Graeme Hick.

    England is in a decent position here, having this choice to make. The worry is more about failing to identify a potential world beater than it is about picking a potential egg beater.

    I tend to agree with Steve though – having an attacking / steady combination at the top is potentially very significant. So when you are in the position of having to select from a decent pool, you might as well aim towards the team structure that is most likely to give the best returns.

    1. No, there isn’t much in it. We suppose we’re saying that where there isn’t much to choose between the various options, surely the logical thing to do is to plump for the one where you still have something in reserve should there be an injury or should one of the batsmen be found wanting.

    2. But King, if Compton can’t handle the idea of being an injury backup, he needs to get over himself. If Root or Cook gets injured, he’ll be back in the team. There’s no shame in that.

      Cricket history is littered with examples of good players who didn’t get many games because better players were picked instead. Nobody’s saying Stuart McGill was not a good enough legspinner, or Bob Taylor an inadequate wicketkeeper.

      Compton can justifiably feel very disappointed about this, but if he sulks his way into a mental state that makes him unpickable in the future, that’s his own damn fault.

    3. We know what you mean, The Other Ed, but it’s a bit different when you’re dropped. Compton was in, they had a look, and now he’s been rejected.

      We also doubt they’d go back to him should there be an injury. They like to look ahead, so more likely they’d turn to someone new.

    4. Hmmm, I’m not sure about either of those points. On being dropped: Strauss was dropped. Bell has been dropped. Prior has been dropped. KP has been dropped (ok, not for the same reasons). They didn’t see it as a vote of no confidence, they saw it as motivation. If Compton doesn’t take it the same way, or can’t perform well enough in county cricket to force the selectors’ hand, well… he probably shouldn’t be in the team.

      On the point about injuries: I doubt they’d go back to him if KP/Bell/Trott/Bairstow were injured, but they might if Cook or Root was. I don’t think he’s in the top six/seven English batsmen, but he might well be in the top three English openers. At the very least, he’s the only opener I can think of with recent test experience and a couple of test centuries. Who else is there? Carberry? Does James Taylor open?

    5. Compton hasn’t been told he isn’t good enough for test cricket. He’s been told he isn’t one of the top six batsmen in the country right now. That’s massively different.

      It all depends on the pool of available players. In the various Australian selection debacles of the last few years, especially with the slow bowlers, players were dropped for others who went on to immediately prove they were substandard. So the dropped bowler was made to feel a poorer bowler than that chap who’d just gone 0 for 135, and when they brought him back in a week later, he knew it was due to desperation. When you’ve just been dropped for a left-arm orthodox bowler who only has a right arm, you know you’re properly rubbish.

      This isn’t the case with these batsmen. Presumably Compton knows he’s lost his place to good players in decent form. Now if Root fails in the first test and gets immediately dropped for Compton, then we can start to worry.

    6. Strauss, Bell, Prior and Pietersen were all much more established when they were left out. They were left out having previously proven themselves. They were dropped on form.

      Compton is not an established player and as he plays no other format for England, he is something of an outsider as well. Maybe we’re wrong, but we get the feeling he is not being dropped on form but because they don’t feel he is up to standard.

      If Compton is expected to do well in county cricket to show the hunger to retain his place, he hit 166 in his first innings for Somerset after the New Zealand Test series.

      Dropping a player can serve as a kick up the arse, but we don’t think the management would see that as being an appropriate way to manage Compton right now. More likely, if they wanted him, they would try and build him up by emphasising that they have confidence in his ability.

  4. At least someone is rooting for Compton, when the whole world and it’s aunt thinks otherwise.

  5. Root is due a fall from grace. I can almost see it coming. The point about Bopara’s failure in the last home Ashes is a relevant one. Root is not invincible.

  6. No-one is invincible.

    I’m with “The Other Ed” on this one – either Compton is good enough mentally to recover from his slump in form and being dropped, or he is not.

    Last time Compton went through such a dip, he looked similarly “shot to pieces” for Middlesex but came out the other side of it a year or so after moving to Somerset. It was not an overnight thing.

    I think Compton will find himself in the squad but not picked for the first test, which is about right in the circumstances. In that case, he will get other opportunities to show form for his county as the “second half of the summer” pans out.

    Apologies for the highlighted phrase. It infers that we have had a first half of the summer, which is, of course, a nonsensical notion this season.

    1. If he ends up in the squad, we’ll accept that Compton’s still in the reckoning and that would change our view considerably.

  7. Also nice to see Big Boyd and Onions being called up to the squad for literally no reason. I dont really understand why England can categorically decide on their top 6, wicket keeper and spinner for this game and presumably the first test, yet need every seam bowling option in the country on standby for a team that was rolled for 20 last week. If they are there as nets bowlers for a day or two (which I can only assume they are) then why not say so?!

  8. When do we have to start calling Root FEC? (bearing in mind that he’s only a Northern Batsman, and not even a Public School educated one at that).

    Compton…meh. He was only ever a stop-gap who was thought to have earned a few caps by dint of a decent career (and having a famous name). I do, however, question whether we’re more likely to win the Ashes with Bairstow instead.

    1. Hmm. Maybe he is public school educated. Worksop College sounded pretty oiky to me, but it was formerly called St Cuthbert’s College and had Eton Fives courts and a Sanatorium.

  9. It’s interesting to look at Compton’s and Root’s stats. Sure, there’s not many matches, but it’s instructive to note that Root has few “failures” – let’s define this to be scores of less than 20. Root’s low scores in 11 innings are 0, 4, and 10 while Compton’s are 1, 7, 13, 2, 3, 16, 15, and 9 — more than twice as many in 17 innings.

    It might be a stretch, but my guess is that Compton does have a propensity to get out cheaply – a big liability when you’re opener and are required to set the tone for the match and all that. This doesn’t mean Root won’t fail, of course, as he has never opened. But it’s certainly something to think about.

    1. What about Root’s stats against the new ball? Anecdotally, I remember him getting out almost immediately after the new ball was taken at least once recently.

    2. I have no idea — as I said, this isn’t a watertight argument. But when I looked at statsguru, this kinda stood out. And if I were a selector, I’ll look at this more seriously.

    3. Yeah, think Mike Selvey was talking about this on the radio the other day. Root’s Headingley hundred came to an end with the first delivery with the new ball and he was also dismissed with the first new ball delivery in the second innings in Auckland.

    4. How about this Statsguru?

      Qual: 10 innings. Cook/Compton are England’s 6th highest averaging opening partnership. Better than Gooch/Atherton, Strauss/Tresco, Tresco/Vaughan, Gooch/Stewart, Atherton/Stewart, Cook/Strauss, Boycott/Gooch…;filter=advanced;orderby=fow_average;partnership_wicketmax2=1;partnership_wicketval2=partnership_wicket;qualmin1=10;qualval1=fow_innings;team=1;template=results;type=fow

  10. Wee Judas Taylor is currently 203* for Notts. Maybe he should get a recall ahead of Bairstow?

Comments are closed.