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  • Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 1st day

Compton given Ashes lifeline

George Dobell and Daniel Brettig at Taunton
June 26, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Nick Compton mixed patience and aggression in his innings of 81 against the touring Australians © Getty Images
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Nick Compton's hopes of featuring in the Ashes have been thrown a lifeline by the England selectors after it was confirmed that he will play for Worcestershire against the touring Australians in a four-day match starting next Tuesday.

On his 30th birthday, 48 hours after he was omitted from the England team to play Essex in the pre-Ashes warm-up match, Compton's defiant 81 for Somerset against the Australians made plain his fervent desire not to be left out. The England selectors have proved they remain interested in fulfilling Compton's wish by facilitating his availability to face the tourists for a second time ahead of the first Investec Ashes Test, which begins on July 10.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the England management have requested Somerset release Compton from Friends Life t20 duty - a competition in which he was not necessarily going to feature anyway - and that Worcestershire have agreed to find room for him in their side.

While Geoff Miller, the national selector, had stated that England saw Joe Root as "currently the best opening partner" for Alastair Cook when announcing the England squad to play Essex, the move to involve Compton in next week's tour match is a sign that the door has not been closed on him entirely.

At Taunton, with Miller's words ringing in his ears, Compton began unsteadily against James Pattinson's outswing but reeled off a string of pleasant shots in an innings that fell 19 runs short of a timely century when Michael Clarke took an agile, juggled catch from the spin of Nathan Lyon. Compton was steely in approach but did not appear restricted by his intensity, as in recent times, scoring his runs at a brisk pace off front and back foot.

As telling as any of Compton's aggressive strokes was a moment of defensive composure to dig out a Mitchell Starc yorker that was screeching towards leg stump before his bat jammed down. Starc's subsequent success with the second new ball showed how sharp Compton had needed to be at that moment.

Lyon's dismissal of Compton was deserved, for it was the offspinner who had come closest to defeating him earlier when a beseeching lbw appeal was declined. Compton had offered no shot to an offbreak that spun back from outside the line of the stumps.

When dismissed Compton swished his bat in frustration, as much at Clarke's successful juggle as missing a century. But even as he trudged off the ground, perhaps fearing that the England career he had won for himself little more than six months ago was slipping inexorably away, moves were afoot to give him another chance against Australia's bowlers.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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