Comparing Root and Compton
England captain Alastair Cook needs a new opening partner for the tour to India, after the retirement of Andrew Strauss. The front-runners are Joe Root and Nick Compton.
England captain Alastair Cook needs a new opening partner for the tour to India, after the retirement of Andrew Strauss. The front-runners are Joe Root and Nick Compton, neither of whom have an England cap. Let's take a closer look at the candidates.
<i>Age: 21<br>County: Yorkshire<br>Average: 38.01<br>Highest Score: 222 not out<br>Overall runs: 2015<br> First Class runs in 2011/12: 746</i>
Unlike Compton, Root is an opening specialist and not a general top order batsman. He knows the pressures of facing the new ball, of building an innings from zero, and of making sensible shot selections in the longer formats.
His form over the past county season was eye-catching, and all four of his First Class centuries came in the past season. His top score of 222 came in July against Hampshire, helping the England selectors to add his name to the touring party.
He is a prodigiously talented player, showing promise from an early age when he shone for England's Under 19 side at their World Cup in 2010. He's also been part of the England Lions set-up, so has some international experience.
His age, while being a negative, is a good thing as well. He has room to grow into the role, and even if he doesn't come good the first go round, there is plenty of time for him to go back, score some county runs, and give it another go. But if he does come good quickly, he and Cook could become a formidable duo.
His inexperience compared to Compton is probably going to be a deciding factor in India. The batting line up, while boosted by Kevin Pietersen's return, is not an overly experienced one, especially in Asian conditions. Jonny Bairstow has promise, but the selectors may want to avoid putting another youngster in the line up alongside him.
Root's recent form has not been ideal, though it isn't really fair to compare T20 cricket for the Tykes in South Africa with Test cricket in India. Still, in the 10 innings he's played since August, only two have gone over 20 and the best was 43 not out.
<b>Andrew Strauss says</b>: "I've heard a lot of good things about Joe Root but it would be hard to say he's the man when I haven't really seen him bat."
<i>Age: 29<br>County: Somerset<br>Average: 44.35<br>Highest Score: 254 not out<br>Overall runs: 6254<br>First Class runs in 2011/12: 1494</i>
Compton's form in the past year has been phenomenal. He was the only player to score over 1000 runs in the Championship, and batted at an outrageous average of 99.60 for the season. His most recent knock for Somerset saw him record 155 not out.
He's built for the longer form of the game and has the technique and temperament to stay in the middle for long periods. He scored more than one double century this past season, including 236 in April, and doesn't get flustered under pressure.
He's an experienced campaigner who is known for his work ethic and drive, himself admitting that coming from a famous sporting family motivates him to get out from under their shadows. He's played three times the First Class games Root has, and scored 16 tons to the youngster's four.
Compton is also a competent player of spin, which is crucial for someone looking to make their mark on the sub-continent. Since his call-up to the Three Lions squad, he has spent his days training with Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, getting in as much spin training as possible.
Compton's strike rate is not the quickest, and is slower than Root's (48 to Root's 51). This leaves him in danger of getting bogged down on the slow, turning wickets, though it does mean he is rarely one to play rash shots.
Another con is his age, in terms of grooming a long-term replacement for Strauss. Of course, 29 is hardly over the hill, and many a player has started on the international scene late, but one worries that a failure to impress could damage his chances of returning if he's dropped, especially if Root, eight years his junior, makes an impact.
<b>Andrew Strauss says</b>: "I've known Nick Compton a long time. He's a fully-formed cricketer and he's scored lots of runs. He probably feels ready to open the batting for England. He's quite an intense character and determined to make the most of his ability. I don't think he'd be overawed."
Of course, England could go with neither of these players and opt to send Jonathan Trott up the order. But Trott has made it very clear that he prefers to bat at three and doesn't want to open, though he may not have a say in the matter at the end of the day.
<b>We would pick</b>: At the moment, based on current form, we'd go for Compton. He's got the experience advantage, which is vital on a difficult tour to India.
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