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Compton finally comes of age with England call-up

“I'm happy for my family and everyone that has contributed to my success.” -File photo by AP

LONDON: Prior to this season, Nick Compton was only known to England's wider cricket audience by association with his legendary grandfather.    

Having averaged 99 in a stellar domestic season, he is finally famous in his own right after England selectors had no choice but to give him a first call-up to the senior team for the upcoming tour of India.

“There was a newspaper article the other day that didn't mention my grandfather and it was one of the first times. I thought, 'Wow, I must have made it on my own now,”' Compton said Tuesday after being picked in England's 16-man squad.

Denis Compton, whose 78-match test career for England spanned from 1937-57, is one of the country's greatest ever players. He averaged 50.06, hit 17 centuries and became a national icon thanks to his audacious talent.

Following his death in 1997, an obituary in Wisden _ one of the oldest and most respected cricket publications _ said: “The exuberance of Compton's batting and personality became a symbol of national renewal ... Only Ian Botham has ever come remotely close to matching this achievement.”

His grandson has a lot to live up to.

Now aged 29, the South African-born Nick Compton's journey to international recognition has not only been slow but tough. Comparisons with his grandfather have been inevitable and unfair, putting pressure on him from the start of his career.

Selection for England's “A” team in 2007 proved to be a false dawn, and it is only this year that Compton has finally demonstrated his talent on a consistent basis.

Batting at No. 3 for Somerset, he struck 1,191 runs in county cricket in 2012 _ the most this year in England _ and only narrowly missed out on becoming the first man for 24 years to reach 1,000 first-class runs by the end of May.

Selectors overlooked him for the summer series against South Africa, which England lost to relinquish the No. 1 test ranking, but they couldn't do so anymore _ especially once Kevin Pietersen's place was up for grabs.

“It is really overwhelming but I am over the moon,” Compton said. “I'm happy for my family and everyone that has contributed to my success.

“I'm proud of the way I've managed to become a good starter to an innings. I have had very few innings where I haven't scored runs. Every sportsman has a journey and a story to tell. I feel that I have worked particularly hard over the last two of three years on developing a world-class defense and putting myself under a lot of pressure in practice.”

Growing up in Natal on the east coast of South Africa, Compton represented the province at tennis, football and hockey at junior level. He is also a keen golfer but he settled on cricket in his late teens and has never looked back.    A tour to India isn't the easiest place to start an international career but he is relishing his opportunity.

“It was my grandfather's favorite place to tour and I'm no different _ I've been there five or six times and it's an amazing place,” Compton said.

“Cricket's a real religion there; what better place to play the game you love? The conditions will be testing but that makes it more enjoyable, to test yourself in that way.”

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