Compton reaches milestone to lift expectation burden

Worcestershire 340 Somerset 277-7

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The Independent Online

Thwarted by the weather on Thursday, Nick Compton may have failed to reach 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May but has the consolation of becoming the earliest to the mark since the last man who did do it.

The Somerset batsman's third Championship century of the summer took him to 1,049 runs for the season. He is the quickest into four figures by date since Hick completed his 1,000 on the same ground on May 28, 1988.

Since then, only Rob Key has reached the milestone remotely as quickly. The Kent and England batsman passed 1,000 on June 2 in 2004.

Compton had been stranded on nine not out when rain halted play less than an hour after lunch on the second day, denying him the chance to become only the ninth man in history to achieve the figure before the end of May.

He did it about an hour or so after lunch yesterday – 24 hours later than he would have preferred – when a single off Gareth Andrew to third man took him to 59 and celebrated with a clenched fist and a shout of 'yes'.

It had been a curious innings. For an extraordinarily long time, he was cautious even by his own risk-nothing policy, taking 103 balls to reach 21, so patient that in one particularly watchful period he saw off 30 deliveries in a row without taking a run. He scored the second of his 13 boundaries off the fifth ball of the day but faced 78 more before he picked up his third.

Thereafter, as if he were suddenly sure of the outcome, runs came in a rush, relatively speaking. He advanced from 21 to 59 in only 36 balls more.

Palpably relieved to have the burden of expectation off his back, Compton maintained his new momentum as he and Jos Buttler added 167 in 34 overs for the fifth wicket, banishing the spectre of being made to follow-on that was raised briefly when James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter fell in consecutive balls to Jack Shantry before lunch.

Hildreth, playing in marked contrast to Compton, hit 52 off only 76 balls before Shantry pinned him in the crease. Buttler was similarly aggressive, gathering 14 fours and a six off Moeen Ali, and was visibly displeased, on 85, when a lofted leg-side stroke off the same bowler was caught by Matt Pardoe at deep midwicket.

After 226 deliveries and 13 fours, Compton's innings ended after Worcestershire took the second new ball as Shantry, the left-arm seamer, moved one away a little to beat his defensive push and clip off stump. Regardless of what he did not manage to do, he is a fine batsman and best a small crowd could muster by way of an ovation was thoroughly well deserved.

More time was lost to bad light at the end, sadly, and the chance of a positive result looks slim.