New Middlesex signing reluctant to be seen as replacement for Australia batsman
Nick Compton is delighted to be back at Middlesex – but has stressed he should not be viewed as a direct replacement for outgoing captain Chris Rogers.
Compton, who is beginning his second spell with the Lord’s club after five years at Somerset, is expected to fill the slot vacated by Rogers at the top of the batting order when the new county season gets under way.
But the 31-year-old England international believes it will also be the duty of his new team-mates to plug the gap left by Rogers, who amassed more than 5,000 County Championship runs in four seasons with Middlesex.
“Chris is a fantastic player and he’s been such an important player at Middlesex for a number of years,” said Compton.
“It’s a similar sort of situation to the one I found myself in when I signed for Somerset, effectively taking Justin Langer’s place – and that was a little more daunting, to be honest!
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“I’m not trying to replace Chris in any shape or form – I’m just looking to come in and do my best. Those are big shoes to fill but it’s not just me who has to do that, it’s every other batsman in the squad as well.
“Everyone aspires to reach that sort of peak – he’s left quite a mark on many of the players here, who are going to have to step up now.
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“It’s like what Marcus Trescothick has done – and continues to do – at Somerset, leaving a big impression on the players who come in.”
Compton departed Middlesex at the end of the 2009 campaign, when they were still floundering in Division Two and undergoing regular changes in terms of both the captaincy and coaching personnel.
Since then the club have stabilised, gained promotion and consolidated in the top flight – and, although they came within a whisker of losing that status last season, Compton is impressed by the progress made during his time away.
“The team have definitely moved on since I was here before and we’ve got a good nucleus of a squad,” he said. “There’s a very good bowling quartet that have bowled consistently well, for instance.
“[Managing director of cricket] Angus Fraser has done a very good job building this team – I could see that from playing against them over the last few years and I can see it now when I walk into the dressing-room.
“Yes, Middlesex did tail away a bit towards the end of last year – that can happen. But the language being spoken is about pushing up towards the other end of the table, and it’s important that we get consistency.
“I spent five really good years at Somerset and I’m grateful for the time I had there. But there’s more going on in London in terms of my family, friends and girlfriend and it’s great to be back.
“It was always going to be Middlesex, given the fact that it’s my home county. This is where it all started for me. Now I’m looking at the final third of my career and I’m looking forward to playing as well as I can.”
While Compton’s chief aim is to help Middlesex compete on all fronts during the coming season, he is also hopeful that weight of runs for his new county can rekindle his international prospects.
Having made the most recent of his nine Test appearances almost two years ago, Compton’s intention is to force his way back into the England reckoning in the near future.
And he will also be competing with the man expected to become his new opening partner at Middlesex – Sam Robson, who played in seven Tests last summer but was left out of the squad for England’s upcoming tour of the West Indies.
“My first priority is to get into the Middlesex side and earn the respect of my team-mates,” added Compton. “If I play well, then the England ambition will definitely grow.
“Sam’s done very well and he was the man in possession last season – but there’s always room for a bit of healthy competition!”