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ENGLAND V SRI LANKA TESTS

Time running out for embattled Compton

10 June 2016

Chris Stocks, at Lord's


@StocksC_cricket

Chris Stocks, at Lord's


@StocksC_cricket

Nick Compton's lean Test series continued on day one at Lord's, while potential replacements are knocking at the door

Nick Compton's Test career appears over after his latest failure against Sri Lanka, England's No.3 batsman out for just one edging behind a ball he really should have left on day one of this final Test at Lord's.

Compton's series average now stands at 10.66, with his scores so far of nought, nine, 22 not out and one illustrating his struggles.

Nothing short of a second-innings century can save Compton now, who given the flat pitch, sunny conditions and pedestrian bowling attack had a golden opportunity to post the score he so desperately needed on his home ground.

Even runs in his second dig might not be enough. After struggling to impress since returning to England's side in South Africa late last year, Compton seems too far gone.

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Too many doubts have been raised, too many failures registered and too many chances given. He's had a series to silence the doubters and has only succeeded in raising the volume of his critics.

Surely now it’s time for England's selectors to set their minds to finding a replacement for Compton at first drop ahead of the second Test series of the northern summer against Pakistan that starts at Lord's next month.

WATCH: Compton has had a lean series

Top of their list is likely to be Scott Borthwick, the Durham batsman who you may remember played his one and only Test against Australia in Sydney in January 2014 as a leg-spinner.

If Borthwick, 26, does get the nod for his own second coming as a Test player, it will be a story that will capture the public's imagination.

For the Durham batsman can be regarded as the closest thing England have to Steve Smith – not in terms of batting but a man who was originally picked as a leggie only to find his true calling later in his career as a No.3 batsman.

Borthwick has been the most consistent runscorer in Division One of England’s County Championship for the past three years.

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He has three first-class hundreds already this northern summer and, with England coach Trevor Bayliss aware of his feats, would feel hard done by if he wasn't afforded the opportunity to follow in Smith’s footsteps and make a go of it as a Test-match No.3.

Paul Collingwood, the former England batsman who is now Borthwick’s captain at Durham, certainly thinks that chance is close. "Scott’s batting has been superb for the last few years, so it’s no surprise to us what he can achieve," Collingwood said.

"I think his time will come again [with England] – he’s in confident mood and, if he keeps scoring runs, he’ll knock on that door and hopefully he’ll get that opportunity some day."

WATCH: Sri Lanka tear through England top-order on day one of first Test

Borthwick himself is also excited by the prospect of returning to a team that is in a far happier place than the demoralised one he came into in Sydney when England were thrashed inside three days to cap a humiliating Ashes whitewash for a rampant Australia.

"At the moment I see myself as a genuine batter who can bowl some handy overs now and again if the wicket deteriorates," he said.

"The one Test I played I was picked as a spinner coming in at No.8 but at that point I’d had only one season batting at three with Durham and since then I’ve developed more in that role.

"I feel I’m batting as well now as I have so far in my career. I’m at the stage where I can get through the nervy nineties and set myself not just to make hundreds, but big hundreds, which is what gets you noticed. If I do get the nod to play for England again I think it will be as a batsman."

Even Bob Willis, the former England fast bowler who has reinvented himself as an acid-tongued TV analyst who rarely offers praise to current players, believes Borthwick is the coming man.

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Willis said: "He has had a very good return over the last four Championship seasons, including this one, and the pitches in Durham aren’t like the Test match pitch so you have to work hard for your runs.

"He is a whole lot better than when he had that slightly embarrassing debut - he has shown good character to come back from that and is right on the cusp of getting into the side."

One man who might scupper Borthwick’s hopes of an international recall is Tom Westley, the Essex batsman who scored a century in a pre-Ashes tour match against Australia at Chelmsford last year.

WATCH: Westley flays Aussie attack in Essex

Westley was close to getting the nod for this current series, too, after registering another tour-match hundred against the Sri Lankans last month and was the first man mentioned by Bayliss when he listed possible replacements for Compton following England’s win in the second Test at Durham.

Westley is also the leading first-class runscorer this English summer, although his output is diminished by the fact he is playing in Division Two of the Championship.

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Despite that, Westley, 27, has a strong backer in his county team-mate and England Test captain Alastair Cook.

It means he is very much in the running for selection if, as seems inevitable, Compton is dropped.

Borthwick, though, will believe the narrative of his own Smith-style emergence will give him the edge.

About the Writer

@StocksC_cricket

Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.