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Durban – Living in the shadow of greatness is not easy, but Durban’s Nick Compton became one of only five pairs of grandfathers and grandsons who have scored hundreds in Tests when he made 123 not out on the fourth day of the England- New Zealand Test on Friday.
An exultant Nick was supported by his father, Richard, a former top-ranking South African cricketer who battled to contain his emotions over the score.
Nick’s mother, Glynis, a journalist and sub-editor who works for the Sunday Tribune, was equally elated.
“Nick has worked so hard for this. Since he was a little boy, he has dreamed of playing for England like his grandfather did, and we are immensely proud of his determination and the guts he showed under pressure.”
Nick’s promise was picked up early while he was at school in Durban and he was awarded a scholarship to study at the prestigious public school Harrow in England.
Though he was initially homesick, recounted Glynis, he went on to cement strong friendships that he still maintains on the international cricket circuit.
Nick plays for Somerset, and last year narrowly missed becoming the first batsman in 24 years to score 1 000 runs by the end of May.
He tries to return to his roots at least once a year, and spent Christmas with his extended family at their holiday cottage in Knysna.
He was accompanied by his friend, Lady Kitty Spencer, daughter of Lord Charles Spencer and the niece of the late Princess Diana.
Nick has visited the family’s ancestral home at Althorp, where he and Charles, an avid cricket fan, have plenty to chat about.
Glynis described Kitty as “a really pretty but down-to-earth young woman who fitted into our daily routine perfectly. She is very bright, cheerful and friendly.”
Although Nick appeared tense when he failed to make a showing at the start of the current Test, he weathered the setback and came back in fighting form after a two-day delay due to weather.
Selected as part of the England team to tour India for last year’s Test, he said: “India was my grandfather’s favourite place to tour and I am no different. What better place to play the game you love?”
Glynis was in the stands to watch her son play his part in propelling England to an overwhelming victory in Mumbai.
“The Indian people are amazingly generous in their love of the game,” she said. “Even when it became clear they would lose, they were immensely supportive of the opposing players’ performance. It was a real lesson in good sportsmanship.”
Nick’s position in the Ashes series next month appears secure and there is every chance he will enjoy a brilliant future with the England team.
If he debuts at Ashes on July 10, it will mark almost precisely 75 years since his grandfather scored a century on his debut there.
“Playing in the Ashes would mean everything in the world to me,” he said.
“In front of your home crowd in England, it would be amazing. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something I really want.
“As far as who I am and who my grandfather was, I think now I get excited by it. You have only one opportunity in life, don’t you?” – Sunday Tribune with additional reporting from the Daily Mail