Wellington: Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott made centuries in a 210-run second wicket partnership which steered England to 267 for 2 at stumps on Thursday, a commanding position after being sent in to bat on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand.
Compton reached his second century in Tests only five days after his first, then he was out for exactly 100, following his famous grandfather Dennis in scoring centuries for England in consecutive Test innings.
Trott came to the wicket when captain Alastair Cook was out for 17 and joined Crompton with England at 26 for 1. He overtook Compton in the 80s and preceded him to a century, his ninth hundred in 40 Tests. He was 121 not out and Kevin Pietersen was 18 not out at the close of play.
In partnership, Compton and Trott first resisted the threat of the new ball, then nullified any advantage New Zealand might have gained on winning the toss. In Compton's innings, which was chanceless for more than 60 overs, there could be seen the blossoming of a Test career and the rise of another new force in a team which already has one of the strongest batting lineups in Test cricket.
Compton came to New Zealand as a player, at 29, yet to establish himself in the England team. He had made his Test debut on England's previous tour to India, had a highest score in four matches of 57 but had the confidence of coach Andy Flower that he was a player of serious potential.
Compton made only 21 and 1 in his only warm-up match before the first Test and was out for a four-ball duck in the first innings of the drawn first Test at Dunedin. But in the second innings, when he grafted his way to a maiden century from 259 balls, he seemed transformed as a batsman. A weight seemed to have lifted from his shoulders: not only the weight of self-doubt that might affect any player at the start of a Test career but also the weight of expectation, increased by the burden of a famous family name.
He was much more confident and assured at the Basin Reserve than he was in his first innings at Dunedin. He negotiated the first hour without offering a chance and was unaffected when Cook was out to a false shot in the 11th over.
He carried on with Trott, at first slowly and with care, to guide England to 75 for 1 by lunch. Compton then helped England accelerate their scoring, to move from a defensive to a far more assertive position, reaching 162 for 1 at tea.
When both he and Trott had reached their centuries during the evening session, England were 236 for 1 and the toss had become a faint footnote. Compton demonstrated a variety of shots throughout his innings, at first prospering against the short ball with pulls and one lofted cut through vacant third man. He increasingly moved onto the front foot and played a series of off, square and cover drives. His century contained 15 boundaries.
Trott batted at a rhythm which, through his 40 Tests, has become almost metronomic. He has a strike-rate in his career of around 46 and sustained that on Thursday when he reached his century in 246 minutes from 174 balls with 14 fours.
He overtook Compton when he went from 79 to 83, moving into the 80s from 50 fewer balls than his batting partner. He then rushed through the 90s and reached 100 with a hooked four off Neil Wagner. Compton went from 92 to 96 with a cut for four off Wagner and then to 100, in the same over, with a flowing cover drive to the boundary. He was out soon after, caught by Ross Taylor at first slip off left-arm spinner Bruce Martin in the 74th over.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum declared his intention on the eve of before the match to bowl first if he won the toss and he kept that promise. He reasoned that his bowlers were a more potent weapon on the opening day of a Test than his batsmen and New Zealand's best chance of success was in taking early England wickets rather than in scoring runs.
There might also have been a hangover from New Zealand's tour to South Africa last year when it sought to be positive by batting first in the first Test at Cape Town and was bowled out for 45 before lunch on the opening day.
McCullum was also relying on experience that the pitch at the Basin Reserve provides most assistance to bowlers in the first session on the first day before becoming ripe for run-scoring. In that he again miscalculated. There was neither swing in fine, warm conditions, nor seam on a pitch which was hard and still had a vestige of grass.
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