Nick Compton dreaming of place in England's Ashes squad
England play the final Test against New Zealand this week
Tuesday 19 March 2013
Nick Compton puts the Ashes out of his mind by day, but cannot stop himself dreaming about facing Australia once the lights are out.
Compton knows he will do himself, and England, no good if he veers off on Ashes-themed reveries when his eye should be on the ball against New Zealand.
Yet there is no point wasting energy by battling the human sub-conscious, he reasons, once the pressure is off for the evening.
Compton has put himself in line to begin England's sequence of 10 Ashes Tests home and away between July and next January, with his back-to-back hundreds against the Kiwis in Dunedin and Wellington.
Rain-affected draws in those first two Tests have helped to concentrate the mind too on the series finale, which starts at Eden Park on Friday and is being billed as a 'cup final'.
Alastair Cook's new opening partner has earned his position the hard way, by perseverance and endeavour - eschewing the flair associated by millions with his famous grandfather Denis.
If he is to become the second Compton to take on Australia, Nick must complete his qualifying stage with more success against New Zealand this week and then in two Tests at home in May.
He admits nonetheless that it can sometimes be a struggle, away from the crease, to banish the 'A' word from his mind.
"It is at night - you go to bed thinking about the Ashes," he said.
"You get that youthful exuberance, which is something that keeps pushing you.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to play in an Ashes series - of course I do.
"But looking too far ahead and what have you, it doesn't do you any good.
"You have to make sure you stick to the next game."
It will be no hardship for any of Cook's tourists to do that in Auckland, where they have a chance to clinch a series many initially predicted they would win 3-0.
For Compton, it will be just the next step to prove he is the right man to open the innings for England long term.
"After this series, I go back to county cricket, I get my head down again and make sure if that time arrives I've put my name in the box seat," he said.
"I have played enough cricket now to know that that line between success and failure is quite thin.
"The more you play, the more respect you have for the game, the more humility you have to have in some ways - because things can change very quickly.
"They have on the up here, but they can go wrong (as well)."
The 29-year-old has two hundreds in the bank and much to be proud of already, having upheld the family tradition in the presence of his father Richard - son of Denis and in attendance to see those breakthrough innings at the University Oval and Basin Reserve.
Compton is simply not the type, however, to let himself start to feel too comfortable in his new rarefied surroundings.
"You're always on nought (when you start an innings) - remember that as a batsman, it doesn't make any difference whether you've got five or six hundreds behind you," he said.
"There is a lot of cricket to play, going back to county cricket - and then we have another series against New Zealand and then, of course, there is the Ashes.
"It's a long time, and a lot can happen."
Compton does allow himself a degree of satisfaction nonetheless that his determination has paid off in a career which began at Middlesex, faltered and then flourished for Somerset.
"You look back over a number of years, and it's a testament to your perseverance and the fact I've kept going," he said.
"I'm also happy about the fact that I could back up (my first hundred) - because I think it's important that when you reach some form as a batsman you keep hungry, you keep the desire up, and keep pushing forward.
"There's only so much talking you can do.
"It comes to the stage where you perhaps feel there's something inside there - but you need to show it.
"It's nice to put those markers down which say, 'There you go, there's two hundreds'.
"I had a feeling I could do it, but you never really know until you do it at this level.
"So yes, I'm chuffed that I've managed to pass that test."
His next, of course, is to prove he belongs - to himself, and others.
"I'm not the sort of guy who would ever allow myself to feel at home (in Test cricket).
"I am feeling a bit more comfortable; I am enjoying the guys; I am getting to know everyone a bit better - and it's nice to have played a couple of innings that are a reflection of what I believed I had inside me and what I can do.
"That takes the pressure off a little bit - just to be able to show people that that's how I can bat.
"But to say I feel settled, it's early days still... two or three years down the line, if I'm still here, then I might say that."
Hull v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger admits 'I am not in the best position' as contract uncertainty continues
West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker Dylan Tombides has died after battle with cancer
Monte Carlo Masters: Rafael Nadal infuriated by umpire's crackdown on his slow play
Manchester United transfer news: David Moyes watches Porto stars Eliaquim Mangala and Jackson Martinez as recruitment drive steps up a gear
Luis Suarez: Could Liverpool cash in on their star striker if they won the Premier League this season?
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave