Just in the Nick of time
Nick Compton was both proud and relieved after the maiden Test century which has surely cemented his role as an Ashes opener this summer.
The 29-year-old marked his fifth Test with a breakthrough innings, consolidation of his hard work in India before Christmas, as he and Alastair Cook shared a record stand of 231.
Both made hundreds, the peerless captain his 24th, to help right the wrongs of England’s first innings as the tourists closed Day Four of the first Test against New Zealand at the University Oval on 234 for one. They still trailed by 59 but had vastly-enhanced prospects of salvaging a draw, despite being bowled out for a hapless 167 at their first attempt.
Compton, grandson of England great Denis, had many reasons for satisfaction as he upheld a famous family tradition and vindicated the faith of Cook and coach Andy Flower. His unbeaten 102, one half of England's highest-ever opening stand against the Kiwis, was proof to himself too that he is after all cut out for Test cricket.
“It’s the biggest relief of my life. To get to this moment was something special,” said Compton, who was watched and later richly congratulated by his father Richard. “I never thought perhaps a year ago or (even) a couple of months ago I’d be sitting here right now with a hundred. I kept believing, but it’s been a long time.
“It’s a strange feeling... but I’m just delighted to be here.” Compton’s chanceless innings stuttered only when he entered the 90s, he and Cook (116) both close to being run out as he tried to sneak his way to three figures with a series of tight singles.
Asked if he felt nervous over those final 10 runs, he said: “Yes ... definitely. I was holding back emotions as much as I could. “I was itching to have a flap at the spinner before the new ball. But obviously there’s a bigger picture — drawing the game is probably the best result we can get now — and that was something Cookie reminded me of.
“I managed to rein myself in... tried to hold my nerve. I’m going to cut myself some slack. There were a few nerves there, but I thought I handled those 90s pretty well.” He got there in the end, in the penultimate over of the day after almost six hours at the crease — a rewarding achievement he and his family will treasure.
Compton, whose sister Alex is paralysed after a car accident five years ago, said: “This means a huge amount. “I had a few family issues back home, and I think just to give that to both my parents to take home with them is something I’ve worked towards for a long time. “I’m proud that my dad’s here. It’s a great occasion.”
Following in his granddad’s footsteps will have obvious resonance with cricket followers the world over. But he said: “I’m not worried about that. “It’s great to do something that my grandfather did, sure. But right now I’m happy for myself and obviously my family.”