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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?