Compton looks to Cook
Alastair Cook doubtless barely broke sweat again as he became England’s all-time leading Test centurion and gave Nick Compton all the confidence he needs as his new opening partner too.
Cook famously keeps his cool when the heat is on anywhere in the cricketing world and there were no signs of any uncharacteristic perspiration at Eden Gardens today either, even as he broke a 73-year-old record for the most hundreds by an Englishman.
Wally Hammond reached 22 10 days before the outbreak of the Second World War, and four others - including Cook and team-mate Kevin Pietersen - have equalled his mark.
But on day two of the third Test against India, “unflappable” Cook duly went one better - a few minutes after becoming the youngest batsman from any country to reach 7,000 Test runs.
Compton, in his first series at the age of 29, is two years Cook’s senior and had a landmark of his own to celebrate during their stand of 165 when he made his maiden fifty at the highest level.
By stumps, Cook, with 136 not out, carried England to 216 for one, exactly 100 runs behind - and into prime position to push for a 2-1 lead with one more match to play.
Compton is struck especially by the calmness Cook transmits down the 22 yards, and felt privileged to be directly involved at such relatively close quarters.
“Standing out there today, looking up at the board and seeing those stats - 7,000 runs, the youngest player to do that, it was quite an amazing moment,” he said.
“I thought ‘I’m batting with this guy; he’s just got another hundred and he’s the all-time leading English hundred-maker ...’.”
Compton, grandson of the great Denis - who followed Hammond into bat at the Oval all those years ago - has trodden a very different path to international cricket.
He can only admire the prodigious Cook, a Test player at 21 and now with five successive centuries in his role as captain - another all-comers’ record, of course.
“It speaks volumes that he’s been able to do that from a young age, and still is a young player,” added Compton. “A lot of players only find their feet at perhaps my age, 28 or 29, but he did it a long time before.”
Compton likens Cook’s presence to that of another he knows even better, ex-England opener Marcus Trescothick.
“To bat with him is quite similar, in some ways, to batting with Trescothick back at Somerset - although clearly different players,” said Compton.
“It’s how clinical they are with every delivery, very few mistakes and every ball played in similar fashion. It’s a mark of a serious player that he does the simple things very, very well and for a long period of time.
“He gives the other players a lot of confidence out there because he’s so solid. I feel like I’ve got a really good bond with him. Even if not much is being said, between balls there’s a little look and a little nod that we’re both in it together.
“He’s very unflappable, not a lot of airs and graces, and just gets on and does it. It makes a big difference to have someone who’s so chilled out at the other end.”
Compton was a little frustrated to have to settle for 57, but said: “I’m really chuffed. It would be nice to have gone on, of course. But if you’d told me I’d get my maiden fifty today, I would have taken it - no doubt.
“We spoke about developing partnerships ... and it’s a good way to try to grind them down. The longer you spend out there, the easier it gets. It’s something I’ve tried to do and Alastair does very well.”
That is not to say he is satisfied, however.
After getting to know Cook pretty well already, Compton is eager to continue a mutually beneficial arrangement with ’captain cool’.
“He’s quite an easy guy to get used to ... I suppose it’s been a good way to get to know someone out in the middle,” he said. “You can’t be closer to someone really in the heat of the battle.”