Stand by your man
Posted in England
On day two of the first Test in Dunedin, television viewers were alerted to the vast array of players utilised by New Zealand at the top of the order in recent years.
Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton - the present first-choice pairing - are among 15 to have opened the batting for the Black Caps since the beginning of 2007.
By contrast, England have gone through seven openers in the same period. What is more, that total would be much lower were it not for Kevin Pietersen's one-off promotion for a brief fourth innings against South Africa at Headingley Carnegie last summer and Andrew Strauss sitting out the 2010 tour of Bangladesh, which led to solitary stints from Michael Carberry and Jonathan Trott.
Prior to the former's retirement last August, Strauss' long-standing partnership with Alastair Cook offered a level of stability and productivity that was surely the envy of New Zealand - and many other Test-playing nations.
While Rutherford and Fulton proved impressive in their first outing together, the benefits of continuity in selection appeared to be underlined again today as England's latest opening duo led a spirited rescue mission.
Nick Compton was chosen as Strauss' replacement following an outstanding domestic campaign with Somerset and went on to perform admirably on the recent tour of India, sharing in two century stands with the prolific Cook.
Despite this, the absence of a substantial individual score - together with Joe Root's marvellous Test debut in Nagpur - ensured Compton, perhaps unfairly, was still subject to media speculation over his place in the team ahead of this series.
A first-innings duck as England folded to 167 all out could have affected the confidence of a player making his way in the international game.
Compton, however, is made of much sterner stuff.
Undaunted by a deficit of 293, he and Cook set about steering England towards safety - a mission that is still some way from completion - with a dogged alliance spanning almost 85 overs.
When the skipper eventually departed not long after reaching his 24th Test ton, Compton was one shy of a maiden international hundred and had already been in the nineties for over three quarters of an hour.
Mercifully he - and father Richard who watched on nervously from the stands - did not have to wait much longer for a moment that will surely be treasured forever.
A leg-side single took Compton to 100 and sparked understandably jubilant celebrations on and off the field.
Cook may well have found another long-term partner. On today's evidence, the successor to Strauss is not for shifting.