Nick joined Somerset for the 2010 season, frustrated at what he saw as limited opportunities at Middlesex, the club where he started his career. He took the opportunity yesterday to pay tribute to Brian Rose for helping to make the move west and fulfil many of his cricketing goals.
In total, he played 67 first-class games for Somerset, scoring 5,140 runs at an exceptional average of 55.86, with 11 centuries and 28 fifties. He made his highest ever score of 254* while at Somerset in the championship match against Durham at Chester-le-Street in 2011.
He also played 50 List ‘A’ games for Somerset, scoring 1,287 runs at 32.17 with one century, 104 against the Unicorns, and 12 fifties.
Never a natural in T20, he still managed 706 runs in 43 matches for the club at 22.77, with two half-centuries, including a top score of 74.
Nick had a quiet start to life at Somerset, making just 465 first-class runs in 2010 and spent the winter of 2010/11 in Zimbabwe, playing for Mashonaland Eagles, where he made an immediate impact in all forms of the game. He scored 209 runs in three first-class matches at an average of 41.80, 204 runs in three one-day matches at an average of 102, and three fifties in six Twenty20 matches, including matching his highest score of 74.
With this success behind him, he really started to make his mark for Somerset the following year and established himself in the side in 2011. He passed 1,000 first-class runs at an average of 57.58 and made two centuries, including that 254* against Durham. The strength of his performance saw him awarded his county cap and he travelled to India in the autumn where Somerset reached the semi-finals of the T20 Champions League.
Easily identifiable with his unique raised batting stance, reminiscent of Graham Gooch, he was a dependable presence at the top of the order, responsible for several big partnerships with Marcus Trescothick and James Hildreth. He spoke today of his dedication to excellence in cricket and he was renowned for his exhaustive net practices in the indoor school which involved ramping up the bowling machine to 90mph plus and dimming the lights to sharpen his reflexes.
It was in 2012 that he really caught the public and selector’s attention, coming close to the prestigious milestone of scoring 1,000 runs before the end of May. He was only denied by the weather at New Road and reached his target the very next day, scoring a century to become the earliest batsman to reach the milestone in 24 years. In a season badly affected by rain he finished with 1,494 runs at the remarkable average of 99.60 and was called up by England on Andrew Strauss’s retirement.
Other highlights that year, the earliest-ever start to a first-class cricket season, included an innings of 236 for Somerset against Cardiff MCCU on 1-2 April. In that game, Compton shared a partnership of 450 with Hildreth for the second wicket, which set a new first-class record for Somerset.
Compton’s good form continued with a second double-century against Nottinghamshire and having already accumulated 685 runs by the end of April, he was recalled to England Lions for their tour match against the West Indies.
His incredible tally of runs in 2012 was all the more striking given that he missed a whole month of the season through injury, after being ruled out mid-way through an England Lions game against Australia A in August with back spasms.
Nick returned to the Somerset side for their final County Championship match against Worcestershire, scoring an unbeaten 155* as Somerset secured the runners-up spot in the competition
Compton was the only English batsman to score 1,000 runs in the County Championship in 2012 and won the PCA Player of the Year award for the first time, as well as being named one of the five Wisden cricketers of the year.
Despite his rejection by England after the New Zealand series the following year, he still managed 1,000 runs in the championship for the third season in a row at 49.8 and followed that up in 2014 with 961 runs including a match-saving 100 against Durham near the start of the season and a magnificent 156 against champions Yorkshire to end the year.
Despite this, England remained unmoved and failed to select him for the Lions’ tour to South Africa this winter. Compton admitted to becoming disillusioned, leading to his departure yesterday as he permanently relocates to his home in south-west London. It’s a move which will bring him closer to friends and family and somewhere he can pursue his cricket career while considering options for a life beyond cricket. He spoke yesterday about how commuting had taken its toll on him and about how his performance had dropped a little as a result. It’s clearly the right move for him to make at this time of his life.
Somerset Chief Executive, Guy Lavender paid tribute to Nick’s achievements at the club yesterday: “We would like to acknowledge the contribution Nick has made to Somerset CCC during his five years with the club. He will be missed and we are disappointed he has decided to leave. He departs with our very best wishes for the future and with our thanks for his outstanding contributions on and off the field.”
Director of Cricket, Matt Maynard said: “I am sorry to see Nick depart as he is a quality cricketer but it is fundamentally important that he, or any player for that matter, wants to be here and is able to perform to the best of their ability; sadly this is not something Nick feels able to achieve at this time”.
Nick told the club website: “I have loved playing for Somerset, but I have decided to re-locate more permanently to my base in South-West London. I have always set myself the highest of professional standards, and I don’t want to compromise myself or the club, going forward. I appreciate Somerset’s understanding of my wish to balance both my personal and professional life. The club will always have a special place in my heart and I owe Brian Rose a huge debt of gratitude for the privileged opportunity he gave me to become a Somerset cricketer, which in turn has enabled me to fulfil a number of cricketing goals. Thanks to everybody who has made me so welcome in the last five years. I have been part of some exceptional teams, experienced the warmth of Somerset’s amazing supporters who make it such a great club to play for, and wish everybody connected with Somerset Cricket continued success.”