Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Compton's Set to Nick Top Spot despite Root's Remarkable Run

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Compton's Set to Nick Top Spot despite Root's Remarkable Run

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Brenkley in Queenstown

ENGLAND offered a significant guide to their intentions for the Test series against New Zealand and beyond today. By selecting Nick Compton as opening batsman ahead of Joe Root in their only tour match the visitors appeared to confirm their contentment with the status quo.

But the strategy was complicated as the day unfolded against a New Zealand XI in the breathtakingly splendid setting beneath the mountain range appositely known as the Remarkables. Compton made an uncertain 21 at the start of the first day while Root assembled a composed, unfussy 49. It was no real surprise when Compton, having played with his usual diligence, edged a lifting ball behind and it was remarkable indeed when Root had his off stump removed shortly after tea.

England finished the first day on 357 for seven on a pitch that provided encouragement to seam bowlers throughout. Ian Bell was the main contributor, starting circumspectly and ending in a state of pristine fluency.

His 127 not out from 196 balls contained 18 fours, only four of which came in the first 50.

Alastair Cook, the captain, made 60 in characteristic style leaving nothing to chance and thus giving himself every opportunity of being honed in the longer game after six weeks of the shorter stuff.

However, the main issues at stake in the match involved Root and Compton, and Stuart Broad and Graham Onions, who are both in contention for the third seamer's spot in the team for the First Test which begins in Dunedin next Wednesday.

Broad's recent injury woes complemented by a loss of spark make Onions a viable contender if he can recapture the zest he shows for Durham.

Compton initially won and held the vacant opening batsman's berth alongside Cook ahead of Root in India late last year and by picking him today it was clearly deemed to be his to lose. However, Root has burst on to the international scene like a meteor in the past two months.

His maiden Test innings of 73 in Nagpur -- in a match nobody expected him to play -- was followed by a litany of outstanding contributions in one-day internationals where his lowest score in seven innings is 28 not out and his average is 82. …

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