England in New Zealand: Alastair Cook and Nick Compton loving their honeymoon period

England pair believe early signs are good for a long and happy opening relationship

Auckland

There they already sit in 18th place, moving up quicker than a smash hit single on Pick of the Pops. Since 331 different pairs have opened the batting for England, it is quite something what Alastair Cook and Nick Compton have already achieved.

In six matches and 11 innings as England's first-wicket partnership, they have put on 755 runs together at an average of 75.5. Of those to have strode out together in any more than three Tests, only Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe have been more prolific and they are imperishable.

It might just be then that the new partnership is here to stay. When Compton was selected at the start of this winter he was taking over from Andrew Strauss as Cook's opening partner. Strauss and Cook had been together for six years and 68 matches, they knew each other's batting intimately, when to run and when to stay, when to block and when to trot, which one was in form and which out of it.

Compton is the new man in Cook's life. Long-standing opening partners become almost like an old married couple. There are highs and lows but by and large they rub along together, they are aware of likes and dislikes and when to speak and when to shut up. When one goes, it is not always easy to take up with somebody else.

Strauss knew the lot from top to bottom, Compton had to win Cook's faith. Two consecutive hundreds for Compton, as well as three century opening stands and two more above 50 tell their own story about how quickly they have come to be at ease with each other. Cook will never forget Strauss, of course, but Compton is the man at the other end now.

Cook said: "He's actually very good at picking out little things I'm trying to do as well. He's quite intense like that, but it works so well for him."

As for Compton: "I'm not just saying it but I really enjoy batting with Alastair. He's relaxed, focused. He's got those eyes that say 'I'm here to fight' – it's something that's very much worked for me as well."

Cook is delighted that the runs have come for his new partner. "He played with a lot more freedom in the second Test after a hundred in the first but still with that control and discipline which has made him such a heavy run-scorer for Somerset. He's just starting to transfer that, to feel comfortable at Test match level."

For Compton, a highly thoughtful cricketer, it is all as much a source of relief as elation. He had spent 10 years waiting for his chance, dogged along the way by all those comparisons to his grandfather, Denis, icon of the English game. Perhaps in some ways it was that which meant it took Compton junior so long to find a style that worked for him.

"Going into the unknown is not always a comfortable place to be," Compton said, "but it just shows if you stick with it long enough and you persevere with what you've worked towards your whole life you eventually come through. I think that's something I've proved to myself and perhaps proved to a few other people as well."

There is abundant goodwill towards Compton, partly because of his relationship to Denis, whose light still glows in the English game, and partly because he is a product of a decade's hard work in the County Championship. Not many make it to England these days through dint of their runs in that competition. They have usually been earmarked long before.

Compton was picked for the squad to India, then made the team. He played his part in that epic victory but never made more than 58. It was hardly nailing down a spot and there were many who foresaw a short career. He readily conceded that he felt under pressure coming into this series against New Zealand.

"Yes, I think did," he said. "I felt more under pressure from myself. Following the Indian series I found Christmas quite a difficult period just because I felt I'd done OK but it was a little bit frustrating because there was that waiting period knowing I could have done better, could have really got in there. I suppose there's only so much self-analysis you can do."

He should now have done enough to guarantee him the series against New Zealand at home. But the Ashes later in the summer and next winter are what he really wants. Sometimes it is difficult to stop his mind straying there, for he wants that above all.

"It is at night, you go to bed at night thinking about the Ashes, you might read the odd comment here and there of course," he said. "You get full of a kind of exuberance which is what keeps driving you. I think if you ask anyone in this room I think they'd all like to play in the Ashes. I feel the same way." Cook and Compton should both be there, together.

Great starts: England's top openers

AN Cook/AJ Strauss (2006-12)4,711

JB Hobbs/H Sutcliffe (1924-30)3,249

L Hutton/C W'brook (1946-51)2,880

Strauss/ME Tresco'k (2004-06)2,670

MA Ath'ton/GA Gooch (1990-95) 2,501

Tres'thk/MP Vaughan (2002-05)2,487

Hobbs/W Rhodes (1910-21)2,146

Atherton/AJ Stewart (1994-98)1,930

G Boycott/Gooch (1978-82)1,754

Boycott/JH Edrich (1964-72)1,672

Ath'ton/Trescothick (2000-01)1,297

RW Barber/Boycott (1964-66)1,171

Ath'ton/MA Butcher (1997-2000)1,107

DL Amiss/Boycott (1973-74)990

MC Cowdrey/G Pullar (1960-62)906

Boycott/JM Brearley (1977-81)874

TW H'ward/AC M'Laren (1901-05)766

NRD Compton/Cook (2012-13)755

Starc faces race to be fit for the Ashes

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc is doubtful to be fit for the start of the Ashes after he returned home early from his team's tour of India in order to undergo ankle surgery.

Cricket Australia confirmed that the 23-year-old will head home, missing the fourth Test which gets under way in Delhi on Friday, and will go under the knife later this week to remove the bone spurs on his right ankle.

The Australia team doctor, Peter Brukner, said: "Mitch has been experiencing ankle pain related to bone spurs during the India Test series and, whilst manageable, this represents an appropriate time for Mitch to have the surgery with a view to having him fully fit for the Ashes in late June."

Mickey Arthur, the Australia coach, added: "We want to have Mitch fit for the Ashes series in England. We will assess his recovery and hope he's also fit for the Champions Trophy."

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
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

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?