|Full name||Denis Charles Scott Compton|
|Born||23 May 1918|
Hendon, Middlesex, England
|Died||23 April 1997 78) (aged|
Windsor, Berkshire, England
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Bowling||Left arm unorthodox spin|
|Relations|| Leslie Compton (brother)|
Richard Compton (son)
Patrick Compton (son)
Ben Compton (grandson)
Nick Compton (grandson)
|Test debut(cap 297)||14 August 1937 v New Zealand|
|Last Test||5 March 1957 v South Africa|
|Domestic team information|
|1936–1964||Marylebone Cricket Club|
Source: Cricinfo, 23 April 1997
Denis Charles Scott Compton(23 May 1918 – 23 April 1997) was an English cricketer who played in 78 Test matches and spent his whole cricket career with Middlesex. He was also an accomplished footballer, who played most of his football career at Arsenal.
A right-handed batsman and left-arm unorthodox spin bowler, Compton is regularly credited as one of England's most remarkable batsmen.Indeed, Sir Don Bradman said he was one of the greatest cricket players he'd ever seen. He is one of only twenty-five players to have scored over one hundred centuries in first-class cricket. In 2009, Compton was posthumously inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. The Denis Compton Oval and a stand at Lord's Cricket Ground are both named in his honour.
Compton was born and brought up in what was then the urban district of Hendon, which later became part of Greater London; his father had moved there in hopes of finding more work. He was the second son and youngest child of Henry Ernest Compton, a self-employed painter and decorator, later a lorry driver when his business failed,and Jessie Anne (née Duthie); he had one older brother, Leslie Harry (born 1912) and one older sister, Hilda (born 1913). He was educated at Bell Lane Primary School and joined the MCC ground staff at Lord's Cricket Ground at the age of 15. The previous summer he had begun to make a name for himself when, at that same venue, he scored 114 as captain of an Elementary Schools XI, impressing Test selector Sir Pelham Warner.
By the late 1930s, Compton was one of England's finest batsmen, and remained at the top of his profession for some twenty years. His dashing approach to batting and the sheer enjoyment he exuded endeared him to a generation of cricket lovers. As an all-rounder Compton was a right-hand bat and a slow left-arm wrist-spin bowler.
Compton earned his first England cap against New Zealand in 1937. At 19 years and 83 days, he remains the third youngest England debutant ever.He scored his first Test century aged just 20 years and 19 days in 1938 against Don Bradman's touring Australians. This broke the record, set by J.W.Hearne in 1911, for the youngest Test century by an England batsman, and remains the record to this day. Later in the same series he scored a match-saving 76 not out at Lord's; this innings was scored on a rain-affected pitch and greatly impressed Don Bradman. In 1939 he scored 2468 runs for the season, including 120 against the West Indies at Lord's.
As with many other sportsmen of his generation, he lost some of his best years to the Second World War, during which he served in the army in India. He was posted at Mhow, Central India. He was granted permission to play for the Holkar team in the Ranji Trophy, India's national cricket tournament. It was in India that he began his close friendship with his Australian counterpart, Test cricketer, footballer and national hero, Keith Miller. They played against each other in the match at Calcutta between the Australian Services team and East Zone.
The match was interrupted by rioting when Compton was on 94, and one of the rioters who had invaded the pitch ran up to Compton and said: "Mr Compton, you very good player, but the match must stop now." This was a phrase which Miller gleefully recalled whenever Compton went out to bat against the Australians.In recognition of their amiable friendship and rivalry, the ECB and Cricket Australia decided in 2005 that the player adjudged the Player of the Series in the Ashes would be awarded the Compton–Miller medal.
England toured Australia in the 1946–47 Ashes series and though they were beaten by the powerful Australian team, Compton distinguished himself by scoring a century in each innings of the Adelaide Test.
Back in England, Compton produced a season of cricket that established him as a British household name, and one of the greatest cricketers of his era. Helped by a rare summer of sunshine,Compton thrilled the war-weary English public with his cavalier batting. Against the touring South Africans, Compton scored five centuries, one for Middlesex and four for England, accumulating 1,056 runs at an average of 88. His aggregate in all matches that season was 3,816 runs, which remains the most ever made in a season in first-class matches. In that season, he scored 18 centuries, with the last one scored on 15 September 1947. Eighteen hundreds in a single season is another world record to his name.
According to journalist Frank Keating, Compton's personal favourite innings of that summer was for Middlesex against Kent at Lord's.Chasing 397 to win, and needing to score at nearly 100 runs per hour, Compton led the way with a dashing 168, but Middlesex fell short by 75 runs.
Cricket writers Neville Cardus and John Arlott acclaimed Compton's achievements. Cardus wrote:
Never have I been so deeply touched on a cricket ground as in this heavenly summer, when I went to Lord's to see a pale-faced crowd, existing on rations, the rocket-bomb still in the ears of most, and see the strain of anxiety and affliction passed from all hearts and shoulders at the sight of Compton in full sail ... each stroke a flick of delight, a propulsion of happy, sane, healthy life. There were no rations in an innings by Compton.
Arlott, who had written his first cricket book that summer, concluded with a tribute to Compton:
To close the eyes is to see again that easy, happy figure at the wicket, pushing an unruly forelock out of the eye and then as it falls down again, playing off the wrong foot a stroke which passes deep-point like a bullet ... never again will the boyish delight in hitting a ball with a piece of wood flower directly into charm and gaiety and all the wealth of achievement.
Against Bradman's Invincibles in 1948, Compton was England's standout performer in a losing cause. In the First Test at Trent Bridge he scored 184 in the second innings after Australia had established a first innings lead of 344, and it looked as though he might save the match for England until he lost his balance to a short-pitched ball from Miller and hit his wicket. In the Third Test at Old Trafford, Compton scored an unbeaten 145 in the first innings, when no other batsman made more than 37. He had scored only four runs when, while facing a bumper barrage from Ray Lindwall, he edged the ball onto his forehead. Compton was forced off the ground with a cut head, given two stitches, and ordered to rest despite wanting to return to the crease.He eventually came back out when England was teetering at 119 for 5 and enabled the team to reach 363. This was the only match that England did not lose, and if so much time had not been lost to the weather they might have won it. In the series he made 562 runs at 62.44, against fierce fast bowling from Lindwall, Miller and Bill Johnston.
On the MCC tour of South Africa 1948–49 he scored 300 against North-Eastern Transvaal in just a minute over three hours – still the fastest triple-century ever in first-class cricket. His first hundred took 66 minutes (he said, "I was getting a sight of the bowling"), his second 78 minutes (he was not out overnight and had to play himself in again next morning), and his third hundred took just 37 minutes. Reminiscing about the match later, Compton compared the South Africans' bowling with a decent county side, but criticised their catching (he had been dropped before he reached 20).
He toured Australia for 1950–51 Ashes series as vice-captain, the first professional in the 20th century to be awarded the position, but had a dismal tour because of a recurring knee problem caused by an old football injury. He averaged only 7.57 in the Tests, but 92.11 in his other first-class matches. He became the first professional to captain the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for an entire game, Jack Hobbs having taken over from the injured Arthur Carr in 1924–1925. He and Len Hutton made the winning runs in the Fifth Test at Melbourne, the first time Australia had been beaten since 1938.
Compton also jointly captained Middlesex between 1951 and 1952, with Bill Edrich. Also in 1952, Compton scored his 100th first-class century against Northampton while featuring for Middlesex at Lord's.On the 1954–55 tour his departure was delayed for a remedial operation on his knee and he joined the team in Australia by aeroplane. In the First Test at Brisbane he badly cut his hand when he hit a billboard while fielding and batted at the bottom of the order. He missed the Second Test. He came third in the England Test averages (38.20), but topped the tour averages (57.07) and made three centuries. In his last Test against Australia in 1956 he made a dazzling 94 despite having just had his right kneecap removed.
In home test series against Pakistan he set the record for scoring the most runs in between lunch and tea in a Test match (173).
Compton finished his cricket career after playing 78 Test matches with 17 centuries at an average of 50.06. In all first-class cricket he scored 123 centuries.
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Compton also played football, beginning his career at non-league Nunhead during the 1933–34 season before joining Arsenal.Whilst playing as a winger, he made his debut in 1936, taking up the number 11 jersey at the club. Arsenal won the league championship (old First Division) in 1937–38, but Denis Compton did not get a medal since he had made only 7 appearances that season. Compton was eventually successful with Arsenal at Highbury, winning the League title in 1948 and the FA Cup in 1950.
However, the latter part of his sporting career was dogged by knee trouble when his right knee was damaged in a collision with the goalkeeper of club Charlton Athletic.He was thus limited to 60 official i.e. non-wartime appearances, scoring 16 goals altogether. He represented England in wartime games on twelve occasions, but never in a full official match.
Compton's absent-mindedness was legendary. Colin Cowdrey writes that Compton turned up for the Old Trafford Test of 1955 against South Africa without his kitbag. Undaunted, he sauntered into the museum and, borrowing an antique bat off the display, went on to score 158 and 71. Nevertheless, England lost by three wickets. This absent-mindedness was particularly obvious in his tendency to run out his partners at the crease: Trevor Bailey declared that 'a call for a run from Compton should be treated as no more than a basis for negotiation.' In typical form, at his brother Leslie's benefit match in 1955, he managed to run him out before he had faced a single ball.
Peter Parfitt, the Middlesex and England batsman, was a speaker at a major celebration in London for Compton's 70th birthday. He claims that the chief guest was called to the telephone by a lady who had heard about the dinner: eventually, he agreed to take the call. "Denis," she said, "it's me, your mother. You're not 70, you're only 69."
After retiring from sport, Denis Compton became a journalist and later a commentator for BBC Television. He was made a CBE in 1958. He became the first former professional cricketer to be elected President of Middlesex County Cricket Club in 1991. He served two terms, until a week before his death from septicaemia in Windsor, Berkshire aged 78.
Compton's death, on Saint George's Day, coincided with the opening of the 1997 County Championship season, and pavilion flags across the country were lowered to half-mast in his memory.The MCC named the twin stands at the Nursery End at Lord's Cricket Ground, in his and Bill Edrich's honour. Cricket writer Colin Bateman noted however that it was "a dull, practical structure which does little justice to their mercurial talents and indomitable spirits".
He was also honoured at the Shenley Cricket Centre, where the main pitch is named the Denis Compton Oval. This is where his grandson, Nick Compton, set the Middlesex record for the 6th wicket partnership in List A cricket (142* BL Hutton & NRD Compton v Lancashire at Shenley 2002).
With his contemporary the footballer Stanley Matthews, Compton was the first British sportsman to make a substantial living by exploiting his sporting reputation to provide advertisements and endorsements. For many years he was the public face of the Brylcreem range of men's haircare products.
An example of this is illustrated upon page VIII of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack edition of 1955. Denis Compton developed a close working relationship with Royds Advertising, and its chairman, who at that time was Nicholas Royds.
Compton's elder brother Leslie also played cricket for Middlesex and football as a defender for Arsenal and England.
Compton was married three times; his first wife was Doris Rich, a dancer. They married at St John's Wood on 1 March 1941 and had a son, Brian (born 2 January 1942).
With his second wife, Valerie Platt, Compton had two sons, Patrick and Richard, both of whom went on to play cricket for Natal.
Compton married his third wife, Christine Franklin Tobias, in 1975, with whom he had two daughters, Charlotte and Victoria.His grandson Nick, son of Richard, made his Test debut against India at Ahmedabad during the England cricket team's 2012–13 tour of India.
The following table summarises the Test centuries scored by Denis Compton.
|Denis Compton's Test Centuries|
|||102||2||Australia||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1938||Drawn|
|||120||6||West Indies||London, England||Lord's||1939||Won|
|||147||15||Australia||Adelaide, Australia||Adelaide Oval||1947||Drawn|
|||163||18||South Africa||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1947||Drawn|
|||208||19||South Africa||London, England||Lord's||1947||Won|
|||115||20||South Africa||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1947||Won|
|||113||22||South Africa||London, England||Kennington Oval||1947||Drawn|
|||184||23||Australia||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1948||Lost|
|||145*||25||Australia||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1948||Drawn|
|||114||29||South Africa||Johannesburg, South Africa||Ellis Park||1948||Drawn|
|||114||33||New Zealand||Leeds, England||Headingley||1949||Drawn|
|||116||34||New Zealand||London, England||Lord's||1949||Drawn|
|||112||44||South Africa||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1951||Lost|
|||133||58||West Indies||Port of Spain, Trinidad||Queen's Park Oval||1954||Drawn|
|||278||61||Pakistan||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1954||Won|
|||158||70||South Africa||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1955||Lost|
Compton is mentioned in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Builders." When questioning the maid Polly about who is at fault for some bungled hotel renovations, Basil sarcastically asks her, "... whose fault is it then you cloth-eared bint? Denis Compton's?"
In an episode of Ever Decreasing Circles titled "The Cricket Match", Martin explains to his neighbour Paul that Compton never undermined his county captain George Mann despite being the better player.
In Tim Rice's Academy Awards acceptance speech for the song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", he thanked Compton as "... a childhood hero of mine."
In the As Time Goes By episode "Living Together, But Where?", Lionel wonders whether he should keep his copy of a book written by Compton.
Denis Compton appears as a mystery guest in the BBC version of "What's My Line?", hosted by Eamonn Andrews having aired on Oct. 5, 1957. A very rare complete episode can be seen on YouTube.
Sir Leonard Hutton was an English cricketer. He played as an opening batsman for Yorkshire County Cricket Club from 1934 to 1955 and for England in 79 Test matches between 1937 and 1955. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack described him as "one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket". He set a record in 1938 for the highest individual innings in a Test match in only his sixth Test appearance, scoring 364 runs against Australia, a milestone that stood for nearly 20 years. Following the Second World War, he was the mainstay of England's batting. In 1952, he became the first professional cricketer of the 20th Century to captain England in Tests; under his captaincy England won the Ashes the following year for the first time in 19 years.
Walter Reginald Hammond was an English first-class cricketer who played for Gloucestershire in a career that lasted from 1920 to 1951. Beginning as a professional, he later became an amateur and was appointed captain of England. Primarily a middle-order batsman, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack described him in his obituary as one of the four best batsmen in the history of cricket. He was considered to be the best English batsman of the 1930s by commentators and those with whom he played; they also said that he was one of the best slip fielders ever. Hammond was an effective fast-medium pace bowler and contemporaries believed that if he had been less reluctant to bowl, he could have achieved even more with the ball than he did.
Norman Walter Dransfield Yardley was an English cricketer who played for Cambridge University, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and England, as a right-handed batsman and occasional bowler. An amateur, he captained Yorkshire from 1948 to 1955 and England on fourteen occasions between 1947 and 1950, winning four Tests, losing seven and drawing three. Yardley was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1948 and in his obituary in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, he was described as Yorkshire's finest amateur since Stanley Jackson.
The Australian cricket team in England in 1948 was captained by Don Bradman, who was making his fourth and final tour of England. The team is famous for being the only Test match side to play an entire tour of England without losing a match. This feat earned them the nickname of "The Invincibles", and they are regarded as one of the greatest cricket teams of all time. According to the Australian federal government the team "is one of Australia's most cherished sporting legends".
Arthur Robert Morris was an Australian cricketer who played 46 Test matches between 1946 and 1955. An opener, Morris is regarded as one of Australia's greatest left-handed batsmen. He is best known for his key role in Don Bradman's Invincibles side, which made an undefeated tour of England in 1948. He was the leading scorer in the Tests on the tour, with three centuries. His efforts in the Fourth Test at Headingley helped Australia to reach a world record victory target of 404 on the final day. Morris was named in the Australian Cricket Board's Team of the Century in 2000 and was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2001.
Donald Tallon was an Australian cricketer who played 21 Test matches as a wicket-keeper between 1946 and 1953. He was widely regarded by his contemporaries as Australia's finest ever wicket-keeper and one of the best in Test history, with an understated style, an ability to anticipate the flight, length and spin of the ball and an efficient stumping technique. Tallon toured England as part of Don Bradman's Invincibles of 1948 and was recognised as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1949 for his performances during that season. During his Test career, Tallon made 58 dismissals comprising 50 catches and 8 stumpings.
Ian Alexander Ross Peebles was a cricketer who played for Oxford University, Middlesex, Scotland and England. After retiring from cricket he became a cricket writer, working as a journalist on The Sunday Times and as the author of many books on cricket.
Nicholas Richard Denis Compton is a South African-born English former Test and first-class cricketer who most recently played for Middlesex County Cricket Club. The grandson of Denis Compton, he represented England in 16 Test matches.
1948 was the 49th season of County Championship cricket in England. Don Bradman, who was shortly to retire, made his final appearance in England. Bradman's Australian team, which included Arthur Morris, a very young Neil Harvey, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, went through the tour without being beaten and became known to cricket's folklore as "The Invincibles". They won the Test series 4–0. Glamorgan won the County Championship for the first time under the dynamic captaincy of Wilf Wooller.
Keith Miller was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948 and went undefeated in its 34 matches. This unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned the Australians the sobriquet "The Invincibles". Miller was an all-rounder: a right-arm opening fast bowler and a right-handed middle-order batsman. With Ray Lindwall, he formed Australia's first-choice opening attack, a combination regarded as one of the best of all time. Miller was also a skillful slip fielder, regarded by his captain as the best in the world.
The Fifth Test of the 1948 Ashes series, held at The Oval in London, was the final Test in that cricket series between Australia and England. The match took place on 14–18 August, with a rest day on 15 August. Australia won the match by an innings and 149 runs to complete a 4–0 series win. It was the last Test in the career of Australian captain Donald Bradman, generally regarded as the best batsman in the history of the sport. Going into the match, if Australia batted only once, Bradman needed only four runs from his final innings to have a Test batting average of exactly 100, but he failed to score, bowled second ball for a duck by leg spinner Eric Hollies.
Ray Lindwall was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Arthur Morris was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Ernie Toshack was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948 and was undefeated in their 34 matches. This unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned Bradman's men the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Ron Saggers was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team of 1948, which toured England and went undefeated in their 34 matches. This unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
The Fourth Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in a cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Headingley Cricket Ground at Leeds from 22 to 27 July with a rest day on 25 July. Australia won the match by seven wickets to take an unassailable 3–0 series lead. In successfully chasing a target of 404, they set a new world record for the highest victorious runchase in Test history, a record lasting until 1976.
The Third Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Old Trafford in Manchester from 8–13 July 1948, with a rest day on 11 July. The match was drawn after the whole of the fourth day and the first half of the fifth day was washed out due to rain; England had the upper hand before the weather intervened. The draw maintained Australia's 2–0 lead in the series, which was established through victories in the first two Tests. As Australia were the holders of The Ashes, the draw meant that England could do no better than level the series 2–2 by winning the last two Tests, and thus Australia retained The Ashes.
Don Bradman toured England in 1948 with an Australian cricket team that went undefeated in their 34 tour matches, including the five Ashes Tests. Bradman was the captain, one of three selectors, and overall a dominant figure of what was regarded as one of the finest teams of all time, earning the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Lindsay Hassett was the vice-captain and one of three on-tour selectors for Don Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles, and resulted in them being regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. A right-handed batsman, Hassett played in all five Tests; he was a middle-order batsman in all but the Fourth Test, when he stood in as an opener due to an injury to Sid Barnes.
Ian Johnson was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. Bradman's men went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
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