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.

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen