The England team before departing for Australia for the Ashes

Spot how many players from Compton's XI are in this pre 2013-14 Ashes England squad picture

Tom Shaw / © Getty Images

Best XI

English with a hint of Aussie

Nick Compton picks a team from among the best cricketers he played with

As told to Scott Oliver  |  

Nick Compton played 16 Tests for England, and was part of touring teams that won Test series in India and South Africa. Here he picks the best team of red-ball cricketers he played alongside.

Alastair Cook
He kept the game incredibly simple and was mentally very stable. It was no coincidence that he was so consistent and played for that length of time with that much success. People said he and I were too similar to open together, which I never agreed with. We didn't lose any of the series I played in, and I think our average partnership was the best since the war [Ed: second best]. Myself, Cook and [Jonathan] Trott were similar, but that's the set-up you need in England against the moving ball. It never took a look in each other's eye to know we were speaking the same language, fighting to build a platform at the top of the innings and let a powerhouse middle order to do what they do well.

Phil Hughes
It was hard to leave out Marcus Trescothick, who was such a major influence on me as captain at Somerset and such an incredible player and clean ball striker. But I have to go with Phil Hughes. I played with him at Western Suburbs in Sydney. He was an audacious talent, something I'd never seen before: unorthodox, but a serious player, and over time would have become one of Australia's leading batsmen, no doubt. Those twin hundreds in Durban in his first series were something very special.

Hashim Amla
I can remember where I was when I first saw Hashim play, the place and the time. I said then to my dad that he would go on to play for and captain South Africa. I played with him at Durban High School - so grew up with him, really. He's an exceptional man, someone I have huge respect for, and as a batsman he is calmness personified. He's also someone who has made runs in all conditions. A great player.

Kevin Pietersen
Owais Shah was unlucky to miss out - one of the most talented players I've ever played with, but he never really got the best out of himself, for various reasons. KP is an obvious pick, but you can't not pick him, really. I was in the team when he got his 186 in Mumbai, one of the best innings you'll ever see. I don't think he was a great defender of spin, but he could dominate them. That innings in India was just on a different level, and that's what he could do: play innings that other people simply couldn't play, and not against average bowling, either. I looked up to his arrogance and dominance.

Throw in a couple of current South African internationals? Here, take these two

Throw in a couple of current South African internationals? Here, take these two Hannah Peters / © Getty Images

Ed Joyce
James Hildreth is someone else who came close: he was the most talented cricketer I played with - incredibly natural, incredibly tough to bowl to, but perhaps he got a bit too comfortable at Somerset. As for Ed, he was a big inspiration to me and someone I looked up to hugely in my early days at Middlesex. He should have played Test cricket - for England, I mean - ahead of one-day cricket. He was a better long-form player. Beautiful to watch, laid-back, with a relaxed exterior, but internally very, very tough.

Ben Stokes
He's a great character. Always in the game - he'll dig you out a wicket. A fantastic fielder, maybe the best in the world all-round, and his batting performance in Cape Town [when he scored 258] was just incredible. He seems pretty relaxed on the outside but for me he was a really impressive professional and a fun guy. He has all the attributes, and England need match-winners.

Jonny Bairstow
I played with Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter at Somerset. Jos has gone on to be the better cricketer but Keisy was unlucky to have his career cut short. He had South African qualities in him that would have made him a tough Test cricketer - but in the end I have to go for Jonny. He's got a lot of character, he's a fighter, and he likes to prove people wrong. He has become an exceptionally good all-formats player, hits the ball very hard, and my only criticism would be that he gets bowled through the gate too often for a world-class player.

Vernon Philander
Alfonso Thomas came close. He's another match-winner: give him the ball and anything could happen, although he wasn't a day-in, day-out red-ball bowler. In the end, though, I went for Vernon, who I played with at Somerset. He's confident and a real genius with the ball. Metronomical. Shows you don't have to be 90mph to be world-class. He could make you look very ordinary in the nets. And he's a very good lower-order batter, too.

Kartik had

Kartik had "guile, flight, confidence" Martin Rickett / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Mitchell Starc
I played with Mitchell at Western Suburbs as he was coming onto the scene. There's nothing like having a left-arm quick with really slippery pace, and he has grown into a world-class bowler now in all formats. I found him very quick but not rapid. But with the swing, the angle, the height, the unpredictability, he's a very tough proposition as a batter.

Stuart Broad
Jimmy [Anderson] and Broady would be obvious picks, but I'm going to limit myself to one of them. Anderson is brilliant but Broady has that special ability to change a game and a series in a single spell, as with the six-for he took at the Wanderers in 2015. He is a real competitor, and intelligent. He picks and chooses when he wants to get his tail up, but he had this knack of pulling something out of the bag. He'd look innocuous and then he'd bowl a spell where you think, "Shit!" - he'd get wickets in clusters.

Murali Kartik
For me, one of the best fingerspinners of modern times and very unlucky not to have played 70 or 80 Test matches. Beautiful bowler. Guile, flight, confidence - arrogance at times - very good cricket brain, and a streetfighter. He was someone I played a lot of cricket with at Somerset, and I thought he was a phenomenal bowler.

Scott Oliver tweets @reverse_sweeper

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Comments