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  • New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day

Compton and Trott make hay for England

The Report by David Hopps
March 14, 2013 « Wozniacki the driving force for McIlroy | Chartbeat test »
England 267 for 2 (Compton 100, Trott 121*) v New Zealand
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Jonathan Trott had masterful control over his innings on the opening day in Wellington © Getty Images
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When you blunder, as New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum surely did, by choosing to bowl in the second Test, you must at least hope to succumb gloriously to a feat of derring do. It must be the understated hundreds that are the worst to bear, the sort of hundreds that tell you quietly and repeatedly that you are being punished for your sins, the sort of hundreds delivered for England in Wellington by Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott.

Compton now has back-to-back Test centuries, his labours on his debut tour in India bearing fruit in New Zealand, providing an assertion that he has talent to go along with an abundance of resolve. But it was Trott who made it through to the close, so methodical that he might have been a student of time and motion, breaking a complex task into such simple, logical steps that his efficiency could not be faulted.

This was a day when the world was engrossed by white smoke rising from the Vatican to mark the election of a new Pope - they even burst into applause at Basin Reserve when a spectator appeared in a Pope fancy dress. After England lost only two wickets in the day, McCullum, like those in Rome, had reason to contemplate cardinal sins.

Compton and Trott might not be the most extravagant double act in the world, in fact they might wear down a crowd as much as they wear down an opposing attack, but they progressed in an orderly fashion and New Zealand's attack sensed from an early hour that they faced a day of hard labour. They were fortunate that the left-arm spinner, Bruce Martin, played a successful holding role, 27 overs rewarded with the wicket of Compton, who was still on 100 when he drove at a delivery that was not quite there and edged to Ross Taylor at first slip.

Smart stats

  • The 210-run partnership between Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott is the seventh double-century stand for England in Tests in New Zealand. Three of them have come since 2000.
  • For the first time ever against New Zealand, and the 16th time overall, England have had two double-century stands in a single series. The previous time they achieved it was in the series in India in 2012-13.
  • Since the beginning of 2009, England have the highest (with Australia) number of double-century stands (13). India are next (12) followed by South Africa (11).
  • Compton followed his century in the first Test with another in Wellington. He has now scored two centuries and a fifty at an average of 47.22.
  • Trott's century is his ninth overall and first against New Zealand. Five of his hundreds have come in away Tests.
  • Compton is the 21st England batsman to be dismissed for exactly 100. Len Hutton has been dismissed on 100 four times and Kevin Pietersen twice.

McCullum had won the toss in Cape Town in January and chose to bat, a new captain eager to make a statement, and saw New Zealand dismissed for 45, demolished by Vernon Philander. In Wellington, it felt more like a concession, an acceptance that New Zealand's batting dared not be risked on the first morning against England's pace attack. Things tend to go awry most often for weaker sides, but his logic was faulty on both occasions.

The skies became bluer by the minute, the breeze of the Cook Strait was light and northerly, and a drought in Wellington has left the city with only 20 days' rain. It is going to pour down later in the match, apparently. The pitch had more bounce than Dunedin, but it was comfortably-paced and true, and not a ball deviated for the pace bowlers in the air or off the pitch. At one point a Paradise Duck waddled onto the square to take a look, and all the signs were that paradise belonged to England.

Compton, in particular, looked in confident mood after his breakthrough hundred in Dunedin. There he had again displayed masses of resolution, a batsman of character trying to prove his mettle. Here he revealed a more expansive side of his batting character. New Zealand want sedate batting surfaces to protect their batting and their bowlers must suffer the consequences.

Such perceptions, though, are often unfair to Trott. He reached his century 50 balls faster than Compton - 174 compared to 224 - but because he played so methodically, and because his innings had less importance for an already-established career, he passed almost unnoticed. His hundred came up with such a supremely controlled pull against Neil Wagner, a shot of a batsman ticking over with absolute certainty, that it summed up the understated nature of his innings.

Compton's hundred, by contrast, was reached flamboyantly as he took two boundaries off Wagner in three balls, a square cut on one knee followed by an equally bracing drive on the up through extra cover.

He pulled well against the new ball and relaxed into some pleasing drives, attacking wide deliveries from Wagner and Trent Boult that he would have left in Dunedin. But he was not quite as sound as Trott, surviving a few fierce forays over gully and, on 65, he escaping an lbw appeal from Martin by dint of an inside edge. But even his most worried look came at 119 for 1, when New Zealand managed a ball change and he briefly worried that it might swing.

England rattled up 40 from six overs immediately after lunch, but then, one suspects, Trott had a word and any over-excitability disappeared. As England slowed in mid-afternoon, most activity came from Trott's facial expressions, furious chewing and rictus grins. Martin turned one past Trott's outside edge, just once, and that was enough to win him deep respect for the rest of the session, 16 overs for 23 by tea.

Alastair Cook had been hailed by McCullum as second only to Don Bradman ahead of the Wellington Test, which historians will scoff was another misjudgement, and Cook was the only England batsman to miss out, out for 17. There was a suggestion that a fullish delivery from Wagner stopped in the pitch a little, but Cook's balance was awry, a failing of old, as he pushed a simple catch to short mid-on. He looked askance at the pitch and later could also be expected to look askance at the laptop replay.

New Zealand's quicks, thwarted by England after leading by 293 in the first Test, would have been forgiven for a secret sigh of anguish that they were back in the field so quickly after bowling 114 overs in the second innings in Dunedin in a forlorn attempt to force victory. It is already hard to imagine them forcing victory here.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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