- New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day
Compton: Partner Cook is a special guy
Nick Compton praised the role of Alastair Cook in helping nurse him towards a maiden Test hundred on the fourth day in Dunedin. The pair combined for their third century opening stand in 10 innings, with Cook scoring his 24th Test hundred, and Compton was grateful for the experience of his captain as he edged towards three figures.
Cook, who fell with Compton on 99, did not have to wait for more than a few days for his first Test century, which came in just his second innings against India in Nagpur. While Compton's wait has not been too long the final moments were surrounded by tension. Compton's innings had started to flow more freely after a sticky start against the new ball, but once the 90s arrived scoring seized up again and, for a short while, it appeared he could be stranded overnight short of the milestone.
"He's fantastic, a real solid grounding sort of guy. He's a special guy," Compton said. "Both of us weren't moving our feet too well early on and probably got away with it a little bit. It grew from there. It was great to have that over-by-over focus. He's a tough character and he kept me going when at times I wanted to get on with it a little bit."
The Cook-Compton partnership replaced one of the most settled of England's history. Cook walked out with Andrew Strauss in 117 innings and they are comfortably England's most prolific first-wicket pair whose 4,711 runs together included 12 century stands. The new era, however, has started productively with three hundred partnerships in 10 innings.
They are now only one behind three pairs who had lengthy associations - Geoff Boycott and Graham Gooch (four in 49 innings), Michael Atherton and Marcus Trescothick (four in 30), Atherton and Mark Butcher (four in 32). Currently, too, for partnerships that have lasted at least 10 innings they sit second behind Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe in terms of average. A skewed statistic, yes, but one nonetheless that shows their early success.
Before the Test, Cook spoke about the differences in their characters - the intensity of Compton - and how life has changed since he is no longer opening with Strauss. He said he felt a duty, as the senior man, to help Compton along.
"I think you get a bit more intense when the pressure is on and you are searching for runs, trying to get yourself together," Compton said. "I've always been someone who analyses myself quite a lot, probably to the detriment but I also think it's got me to where I have - the hunger and the drive. Alastair is a very balanced guy, very level-headed guy."
When Cook finally fell, shortly before the close, edging behind off Trent Boult with the second new ball, the stand of 231 was England's highest for the first wicket since Strauss and Trescothick added 273 against South Africa at Durban in 2004, which was the beginning of another rearguard after a poor first innings, and also their eighth-highest ever upfront.
It has given England a good chance of salvaging a draw after two horrid days in another slow start to an overseas series. "We put ourselves in this position, we're well aware of that," Compton said. "We weren't good enough in the first innings and New Zealand were right on it. They batted brilliantly, they bowled well. So it was a bit of a kick up the proverbial, if you know what I mean. It was a case of really trying to get back into it."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo