JOE ROOT knows what a difference a big Lord’s hundred can make – and is backing Nick Compton to come up with the goods when he most needs them.
Compton will enter his 16th Test, on his home ground, under more pressure than ever to ensure it is not his last.
England’s No 3 admitted he was playing for his Test future, in fact, before the series-sealing victory over Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street.
Scores of nine and then an unbeaten 22 as the hosts cantered to victory by nine wickets leave Compton with an average still hovering vulnerably just above 30 – and those who doubted him will still do so.
Root’s story was different but had reached a tipping point too when he took on these same opponents at Lord’s two years ago, in his comeback match after being dropped for the final instalment of England’s hapless Ashes whitewash in 2013-14.
Given their relative ages – Compton will be 33 before he has another chance in a Test match, whatever happens this week – the stakes were not as high for Yorkshire’s Root. Even so, he felt the pressure – before delivering with a maiden, unbeaten double-hundred.
“It was my first game back in the team ... I almost had a point to prove not just to everyone else but to myself, and show that I can play at this level,” said Root, who has rarely looked back.
“If I’d have got two noughts, you don’t know how the rest of the summer would have unfolded.
“It gave me a lot of confidence.
“When you have those results behind you it gives you a lot more to fall back on when times get a bit tough again.
“I look back at that and think it was a massive stepping stone, proving to myself that I can score big runs.”
Root senses a great opportunity for Compton too, in his most familiar surroundings.
“Traditionally it’s a very good place to bat, it’s his home ground and he has a point to prove.
“It would be great to see him put in a match-winning performance – which he’s more than capable of doing.”
Even at No 2 in the world batting rankings, Root is self-critical.
His dismissal for 80 in the second Investec Test, when another hundred seemed there for the taking, is a case in point.
“It was a car crash, really – it was awful,” Root said of a shot that defied conventional description. “I definitely played the wrong shot, then tried to play another one and then finally did what I did to try to get myself out of trouble.”