County cricket is back! And if you're in any doubt how relevant it is, just ask Compton
22:26 GMT, 9 April 2013
09:19 GMT, 10 April 2013
Anyone wondering whether the County Championship retains its relevance within the framework of 21st-century cricket ought to pose the question to Nick Compton.
In an age when Twenty20 offers the quickest route to fame and fortune, Compton took the sleepy backroads around the shires with Somerset to reach the international fast lane.
Perhaps held back in his early career by lugging a famous surname around, the 29-year-old has flourished since moving to Taunton in 2010.
Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot
Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season
Last season he achieved a Bradman-esque
County Championship average of 99.25 and, two Test hundreds in New
Zealand later, he holds an England place three months shy of the Ashes.
‘The County Championship provides the route to the England team and it is really important that message is projected.
'Compton is a fine example of someone who was banging out big runs to a degree where we could no longer not pick him,’ acknowledged England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles as county sides prepare for Wednesday's opening games of the Championship season.
‘In the end he selected himself by the sheer weight of numbers he was stacking up and that has to be a boost for all county cricketers out there.
'From my experience with Warwickshire, he was by far the stand-out guy we played against; by virtue of the fact you actually had to get him out.
'He exhibited the skills you look for in a top player as well. You can’t just do it by getting runs, you have to display the mental and physical attributes to play Test cricket.’
Mark Butcher, a predecessor of Compton’s as an England Test opener, added: ‘Compo’s thing is that he was not picked on the basis of one glorious summer. He has done it year in, year out and that as much as anything is the lesson for others.’
Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring
Championship cricket, with its
unrelenting schedule, remains the best gauge of a player’s credentials,
according to Giles, the director of cricket who guided Warwickshire to
the title last September.
the course of a long season, take away all the variables of weather,
injuries to a degree, and it is the best signal of who is the best
cricket team in the land,' he said.
On Wednesday morning, the Championship
pennant will be hoisted on the pavilion at Edgbaston for the champions’
opening fixture against Derbyshire. But who does Giles view as the most
likely challengers this year
Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire
Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)
‘I think Middlesex will be a dangerous side,’ he said. ‘When we sat back at the end of last season and reflected, we felt they were the most similar side to us in how they played their cricket. If they had nudged us a bit harder last year I reckon they could have beaten us but they were quite tentative.’
Former Surrey batsman Butcher, meanwhile, said: ‘I will be keeping an eye on Yorkshire because they are a very talented group. They have some young guys in there so to go all the way might be beyond them because of that youth.
‘To me it’s no surprise that Warwickshire got into positions to win things over the past couple of years because of the average age of their team. They are a mature team, not an old team.'
Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle
Ashley Giles and Mark Butcher were talking ahead of this year’s LV= County Catch-up – A monthly online programme featuring news, player interviews and behind the scenes insight from the LV= County Championship circuit.