Nick Compton passes Test as Kevin Pietersen does his talking with ton in the middle
Opener books England berth for India clash and
Pietersen refuses to comment after his fireworks
Nick Compton, who will be introduced for as long as he plays as Denis’s grandson, confirmed his place in England’s Test side today.
By scoring, or rather prising out, 74 runs on the opening day of the final warm-up match against Haryana, the 29-year-old ensured that he will follow his illustrious forebear as an international batsman.
The innings was a model of vigilance against an attack which began as modest before becoming much worse and if it was significant for the composition of England’s team, it was also overshadowed in a way that rarely happened to his grandfather.
After Compton had departed, Kevin Pietersen carved out a hundred in typically blazing fashion, his first since his return to the side. Pietersen did much as he liked against bowling that was never remotely about to threaten his considerable resources.
Where newcomer Compton took 144 balls over his innings, 111 of which he failed to score from, Pietersen, the seasoned buccaneer, made 110 from 94 balls before he retired out. He was dropped once, on 85, but that for all the world looked as if he was offering catching practice to deep mid-wicket.
The opportunity, spurned as it was, epitomised Haryana’s cricket which was first class only in name and well short of what England can expect next week when the First Test begins on the adjoining ground.
England closed on 408 for three with Ian Bell also spending some welcome time at the crease with an unbeaten half-century.
Pietersen declined to speak about his innings later, which indicated that his so-called process of “reintegration” still has some way to go. He was a late addition to this squad only after peace talks with senior management and players which followed his dropping from the team for the final Test of the summer.
Throughout the fortnight of this tour so far, the entire England squad have insisted that rehabilitation is complete but not so complete that the man himself was prepared to talk about it.
The composition of England’s team, at least in terms of their batsmen, had already been decided from the look of today’s XI but Compton, as a potential debutant, was still under slight pressure. Two failures and the selectors may have reconsidered but that option never looked likely today.
If the batting was in rude health the bowling was a different matter. With Graeme Swann having flown home because his three-week-old daughter is ill, the attack contained four bowlers — Monty Panesar, Graham Onions, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Meaker — of whom it is possible none will play in the opening Test. Steve Finn and Stuart Broad were out because of injuries to thigh and heel, while Jimmy Anderson was rested for this clash.
Compton, who was a guardsman straight at the crease, was deliberately circumspect early on. Together with a more aggressive Alastair Cook, he put on 166 for the first wicket, the only false shots an occasional edge through slips. Cook’s second century of the tour looked inevitable until he somehow edged a cut to the keeper for 97.
Compton was leg before to the Test leg spinner Amit Mishra, the only bowler of genuine quality on view, as was Jonathan Trott (46).
It was easily England’s day but although Pietersen and Bell were fairly disdainful, that at least was a warning of what might await when the real business begins.
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