Cricket

Nick Compton exclusive: Family history a help, not a hindrance

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Nick Compton speaks exclusively to GiveMeSport his sporting journey...

English cricket has always profited from the influx of South African talent, and in turn, South African talent has usually profited from English cricket.

Some South Africans came for the money, some came to escape the quota system, others just followed their family, but Nick Compton came to seize and opportunity and pursue his passion.  

The 30-year-old batsman explains: "I remember coming over to England as a 13-year-old boy and getting my first taste of English cricket.

"I remember thinking, 'this is where I want to be, this is what it is about for me'. I had some great experiences and met some great people.

"One of them was Tim Burn, who was an early inspiration. He coached me after playing cricket with my dad in South Africa. 

"Tim was the England under 19s coach for some time, he was also involved in the England team with Duncan Fletcher. He knew my dad quite well and he coached me for a couple of weeks back in Durban before he invited me over to England. I had my first taste of cricket here and I though, 'this is what I want to do.'"

Compton moved to England at the age of 15 and attended Harrow school on a sports scholarship. Compton captained his school side and also joined Middlesex and worked his way up, through the ranks.

By the time he had completed his A Levels, in 2001, Compton had already been offered a contract to join Middlesex.

At Harrow, Compton was mentored by his house master David Elleray but he never lost touch with Burn.

Elleray and Burn were just two of the many men, who inspired Compton. As the: son of Natal fast bowler Richard Compton, the great-nephew of Middlesex batsman and Arsenal player Leslie Compton and the grandson of legendary England cricketer and Arsenal winger Denis Compton, Nick was never short of family idols.

Many would feel pressurised and daunted by such a prestigious family name, but Nick insists that he only ever viewed it positively. "It is quite a legacy. It did not hit me until I first came over to England and started trying to forge a professional cricket career at Harrow.

"But even going back to my Natal days, I loved sport, rugby was my passion, then tennis, then athletics. You name it, I played it. I think I was very lucky to have that upbringing. I just naturally transgressed into cricket. People say that is because of your grandfather but I don't know.

"I became more aware of his prowess coming to England and meeting people and playing at Lord's. I learnt a lot more about his legacy and it is something that continually makes me very proud.

"People often ask if it puts more pressure on me, I don't know that it has. I have always been naturally quite ambitious myself. From the age of 12 or 13, playing professional cricket has always been a dream of mine. 

"Because of my family history, I am sure there is something behind it, in the talent I have been given."

Compton is proud of his heritage, and of the family name. But from the minute he arrived at Harrow, he was determined to create his own identity and be remembered for his own achievements. Whether he was captaining Harrow or opening for England, Compton has always looked to surpass his grandfather's achievements, not replicate them.

"My grandfather was my grandfather," said Compton, "I never felt any pressure to be as good as him or to try achieve what he did. I was trying to make my own way."

The opener will certainly never be forgotten by Middlesex or Somerset, but Compton is now just doing everything he can to ensure the England selectors do not forget him.

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Cricket
England cricket

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