Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott made centuries in a 210-run second wicket partnership which steered England to 267-2 at stumps on Thursday, a commanding position after being sent in to bat on the first day of the second cricket test against New Zealand.
Compton reached his second century in tests only five days after his first, then was out for exactly 100, following his famous grandfather Dennis Compton in scoring centuries for England in consecutive test innings.
Trott went to the wicket when captain Alastair Cook was out for 17, joining Crompton with England at 26-1. He overtook Compton in the 80s and preceded him to a century, his ninth hundred in 40 tests. He was 121 not out and Kevin Pietersen was 18 not out at the close of play.
In partnership, Compton and Trott first resisted the threat of the new ball, then nullified any advantage New Zealand might have gained on winning the toss.
In Compton’s innings, which was chanceless for more than 60 overs, there could be seen the blossoming of a test career and the rise of another new force in a team which already has one of the strongest batting lineups in test cricket.
Compton came to New Zealand as a player, at 29, yet to establish himself in the England team. He had made his test debut on England’s previous tour to India, had a highest score in four matches of 57 but had the confidence of coach Andy Flower that he was a player of serious potential.
Compton made only 21 and 1 in his only warmup match before the first test and was out for a four-ball duck in the first innings of the drawn first test at Dunedin.
But in the second innings, when he grafted his way to a maiden century from 259 balls, he seemed transformed as a batsman. A weight seemed to have lifted from his shoulders- not only the weight of self-doubt that might affect any player at the start of a test career but also the weight of expectation, increased by the burden of a famous family name.
Later, Trott said England might have been fortunate to lose the toss.
“I think we would have done the same (as New Zealand),” he said. “Alastair is very lucky or happy it landed on heads.
“It is important to have a good first session tomorrow and set up the game. You don’t want to undo today’s work by being lazy and taking things for granted by looking too far ahead to the declaration and that sort of stuff.
“That will take care of itself if we look after the first hour tomorrow. That will be our first mission.
“The wind might dry it out and help Monty (Panesar) with a bit of turn. Their spinner turned a few so hopefully with a bit of wear over next couple of days things will go our way and Monty can operate into the wind quite well.”
Compton demonstrated a variety of shots throughout his innings, at first prospering against the short ball with pulls and one lofted cut through vacant third man. He increasingly moved onto the front foot and played a series of off, square and cover drives. His century contained 15 boundaries.
Trott batted at a rhythm which, through his 40 tests, has become almost metronomic. He has a strike-rate in his career of around 46 and sustained that on Thursday when he reached his century in 246 minutes from 174 balls with 14 fours.
Compton went from 92 to 96 with a cut for four off Wagner and then to 100, in the same over, with a flowing cover drive to the boundary. He was out soon after, caught by Ross Taylor at first slip off left-arm spinner Bruce Martin in the 74th over.
“It was a slightly slowish wicket which didn’t do as much as we thought it was going to do,” Martin said. “But there were some good signs it was going to turn a little bit which is positive for me as long as we can bowl well tomorrow morning. It’s just another good hard slog on a pretty slow wicket.”
New Zealand has now bowled 260 overs at England in its last two innings, taking only eight wickets.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum declared his intention on the eve of before the match to bowl first if he won the toss and he kept that promise.
There might also have been a hangover from New Zealand’s tour to South Africa last year when it sought to be positive by batting first in the first test at Cape Town and was bowled out for 45 before lunch on the opening day.