Nick with a famous surname Compton is all set to play Test cricket for England. Fifty-five years ago one of England’s post-World War II legends Denis Compton bid adieu after playing his last Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth; it was a muted exit dismissed by a renowned fast bowler Neil Adcock and a great exponent of off-break bowling, Hugh ‘Toey’ Tayfield.
Come next Thursday (November 15), when India is in the midst of celebrating the festival of lights, Denis’s grandson Nick Compton (son of Richard) would most probably step out with captain Alastair Cook at Motera and make his debut in the first Test.
Denis was only 19 when he made his debut against New Zealand in August 1937. Nick would be 29 and he has come into the reckoning because of the vacancy created by the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Denis batted at four 86 times and five 22 times and scored in all 5,807 runs; Nick will be right at the top of the order.
Denis played eight Tests before the war and even scored a century against Don Bradman’s Australia in June 1938 at Trent Bridge.
The war time of seven years affected his cricket because of the absence of county cricket, though he played three Ranji Trophy matches for Holkar in 1944-45 and some more in the next season while serving the army in India.
He described (in his book End of an Innings published by the Sportsmans Book Club) the quality of cricket he played in India as “of quite a high standard though not of the dazzling quality of play seen in the Victory Tests”. When Denis returned to England and when cricket resumed, his scores were 10, 0, 7, 0, 8, 0 and 1; it was not until in the Middlesex v Warwickshire match that luck favoured him (when the ball hit the stumps, but did not dislodge the bails) that he saw a turnaround in fortunes.
Like his grandfather, Nick played for Middlesex before moving to Somerset. He is on the verge of playing 100 first class matches. It was not before his third innings against Mumbai ‘A’ at the D.Y. Patil Stadium that he got used to the conditions and bowling on way to an unbeaten 64.
Nick was spot on when he said batsmen needed a foundation to build from. “I feel like this (64 not out) has given me three hours in the middle, got my balance back and the feet moving. We’ve had six-seven weeks off in England; we then came here. You just have to switch on quickly and hopefully build from strengths. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have an eye on that opening spot.’’