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
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices