Reports of the death of Nick Compton's Test career may have been exaggerated. The opening batsman, who made 81 for Somerset against Australia, has been invited to play for Worcestershire against the tourists next week.
It is an indication that England are not yet quite ready to discard Compton from their team to play in the Ashes. His brief interlude as an international seemed to be over when he was overlooked for the team's warm-up match against Essex, which is also next week. Geoff Miller, the national selector, said England saw Joe Root as the best man to open with Alastair Cook. Presumably, however they are wary of putting all their eggs into one basket.
Compton played a significant part in a remarkable day's cricket at Taunton when Somerset were lost their last eight wickets for 16 runs in Australia's first game of the Ashes tour. In what turned out to be his valedictory interview as the coach of Australia, Mickey Arthur declared that they had the best bowling attack in the world. It might have been the statement that persuaded his employers they ought to sack him.
The early evidence of the opening skirmish suggested that it may not be the best attack in the west country. Understandably rusty, admittedly on a flat pitch, the tourists were initially plundered by the dropped Compton and Chris Jones, a recent first class honours graduate of Durham University.
By the close of the opening day of the first of two practice matches before the first Test, however, they had stockpiled their credentials. Arthur was looking like a latter day seer. In the evening sunshine, to the delight of a multitude of expatriates in a large crowd, his former charges reduced Somerset to tatters.
Six of the wickets to fall went for none in 29 balls. It was the second new ball that inflicted the damage as Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson were irresistible. Starc, innocuous and laboured for much of the day, suddenly discovered swing and accuracy. Pattinson was hostile and fast. They pitched the ball up.
From the riches of 304 for 2, Somerset were dismissed for 320, improbably giving Australia time for an over to bat. It was a substantial recovery by the tourists for earlier in the piece there were too many poor balls for a side a fortnight away from a Test match.
Compton, dropped by England two days ago, issued a rejoinder to the selectors in a well-appointed innings, while Jones made a handsome maiden hundred at the 34th time of asking in first-class cricket. The pair put on 170 for the second wicket. As always in these warm-ups, it probably meant little in deciding the destiny of the terracotta urn come September but equally Australia knew they needed to do rather better than this if it is to be coming their way.
Compton's brief Test career, which seems certain to have reached at least a temporary end after he was omitted from the England squad to play Essex next week in a practice match, was marked by his tenacity.
He showed that quality as well as an assertiveness that was too often missing, booming off the front foot to strike 13 fours. There was no question that his intention was to secure a timely hundred here, if only to make a point to the selectors.
What a time in his life this is for 22-year-old Jones who has just come down from Durham with a first-class degree in economics. But it was his dismissal which heralded the astonishing collapse.
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