Nick Compton is hoping to take his dream of playing for England to the next level, with a Test debut in Ahmedabad.
Somerset batsman Compton’s unbeaten 64 on the final day of the tour match against Mumbai A means he ‘won’ his duel with Joe Root at the Dr DY Patil Sports Stadium.
The two contenders to replace the retired Andrew Strauss as new Test captain Alastair Cook’s opening partner, in the first of four Tests against India, had two opportunities to press their claims in a match which finished in a predictable draw.
Root managed a pair of 20s. But Compton, already preferred to the young Yorkshireman in the opening match against India A last week, followed his duck there and just a single in the first innings here with an increasingly confident if painstaking half-century.
“I definitely needed that,” said the 29-year-old, after England had first bowled out their hosts for 286 for a lead of 59 and then closed on 149 for two.
“It’s not been the ideal start, to be honest, but I just think you need to give yourself a bit of time.”
Compton did not panic after his first two failures, and can probably now consider himself pencilled in for the final pre-Test warm-up match against Haryana, which begins on Thursday.
“It is natural in a squad that everyone is vying for a place, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have an eye on that opening spot,” he added.
“I took a bit of confidence from getting the nod in the first game, and that is why I was disappointed not to take the initial chance.”
After 10 days in India, and a handful at England’s Dubai training camp before that, the experience so far is all Compton hoped it would be.
“It has been a dream come true,” he said.
“Just to be around these guys has been fantastic, guys I’ve watched for years and look up to. The guys have been accepting, and I’ve loved the last 10 days – apart from the low scores.”
Compton has learned, with maturity, not to put undue pressure on himself – and worked out he needed to be patient in his latest challenge too.
“It is a new country, a new place to play, a new team – so perhaps I was a bit hard on myself,” he said.
“For me the most important thing was to spend time in the middle, and the more balls I can face in these conditions then the better and it will bode for the future.
“I’m delighted to have spent some time out there and get used to the conditions.
“I think you need a foundation, something to build on, and I feel like that has given me three hours in the middle and somewhere to go from.
“I got the balance back and the feet going. Perhaps in the first couple of games the feet weren’t moving that well, and I got caught out.
“But that can happen. That has been and gone.”
England are hoping the same can soon be said of worrying injuries to two of their first-choice fast bowlers.
Stuart Broad was able to take the field yesterday but did not risk bowling, after a scan revealed just bruising in his sore left heel, and Steven Finn’s recovery from a thigh strain continues.
Of Broad, Compton said: “I’m sure we’ll know more about it in the next couple of days ... he was running around okay here.
“I hope it is just a case of looking after him.”
As for the worry of having two key bowlers out of action, he added: “It is challenging, but you’ve got to accept that it is tough out here and people are going to get injured.
“Ideally you want everyone fit, but there are a lot of good guys in the wings. Graham Onions is a fine bowler and can fit into the role.
“Of course, you want your first choice guys to be fit, and Finny seems to be coming on quite well as well.”
England will today be joined by Stuart Meaker, called in as cover for Finn, after he received his visa to travel.