England hand Nick Compton the chance to cement place as Ashes opener

 

Queenstown

England made a decisive selection judgement for the future last night by overlooking Joe Root's claims as opening batsman. Instead, they kept faith with Nick Compton for their only warm-up match on the Test tour of New Zealand.

He scored 17 against a New Zealand XI before edging a bouncing ball to the keeper. Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen were also dismissed before lunch when England were 98 for 3 with the captain, Alastair Cook, unbeaten on 50.

Such has been Root's progress in the past two months – and so obvious has it seemed that he is destined to be an international opener – that it seemed his moment might already have come. But the selectors understandably erred on the side of caution.

Root was picked at No 6 in the side, the place he occupied on his surprising Test debut in Nagpur last December. The composition of the side has repercussions not only for the series against New Zealand, which begins next week, but also for the Ashes this summer.

They seem to have decided that the berth alongside Cook at the top of the order is Compton's to lose. It would have been harsh to overlook him after the manner in which he applied himself during the series against India but sometimes selectors have to make tough calls.

Compton was far from a failure in India but neither was he an unfettered success. Of his eight innings he scored at least 29 in five of them but never went beyond 57.

It is perhaps his destiny to suffer unfair comparisons with his grandfather, Denis, one of the icons of the English game. Compton senior he is not, and the limitations of his batting would be seen in India.

But Compton has boundless patience and his elevation to the Test side is seen as a commendation for the county game. It was a sequence of large innings for Somerset early last season that saw him elevated into the Test reckoning for the first time at the age of 29.

It is difficult to see him as an Ashes hero but England appear to have given him every opportunity to stake his claim. With five Tests against New Zealand – three away and two at home – he would favour his chances of making a breakthrough score.

Root will hardly mind for the moment. Only 22 years of age, he has had an astonishing rise in the last few weeks. It is not simply the number of runs he has made, but the way he has made them.

He has looked entirely at home in international cricket in a way that few players down the years have done. He made a composed 73 on his Test debut in Nagpur, when he was called into the team at the last moment after carrying drinks as 12th man all tour.

In some quarters it was seen as mildly surprising when Compton was given the first chance to open at the start of the India tour. The thinking was that if Root was the future he may as well start now. Since his Test debut Root has become a fixture in the one-day side and after seven innings has an average of 81.50 with three fifties. His ability to assess the conditions and play accordingly has set him apart.

The top six chosen for the match which started last night seem certain to play in the first Test next week. England, however, rested two of their in-form fast bowlers, Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn. Chris Woakes and Graham Onions were picked, partly as insurance should they be needed in the Tests in the case of injury.

Queenstown details

England XI A N Cook (capt), N R D Compton, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, J E Root, M J Prior†, C R Woakes, S C J Broad, G P Swann, G Onions

Play started last night, New Zealand XI won the toss and elected to field.

Game is a four-day match.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture