Compton in about 1936
|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|| RCD Compton (son)|
PMD Compton (son)
NRD Compton (grandson)
LH Compton (brother)
|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.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. He was the second son and youngest child of Henry Ernest Compton and Jessie Anne 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 Chinaman 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 as 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 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 1924–25. 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.' Typically, 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, and they had a son, Brian.With his second wife, Valerie Platt, Compton had two sons, Patrick and Richard, both of whom would go 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||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1938||Drawn|
|||147||15||Adelaide, Australia||Adelaide Oval||1947||Drawn|
|||163||18||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1947||Drawn|
|||115||20||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1947||Won|
|||113||22||London, England||Kennington Oval||1947||Drawn|
|||184||23||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1948||Lost|
|||145*||25||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1948||Drawn|
|||114||29||Johannesburg, South Africa||Ellis Park||1948||Drawn|
|||112||44||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1951||Lost|
|||133||58||Port of Spain, Trinidad||Queen's Park Oval||1954||Drawn|
|||278||61||Nottingham, England||Trent Bridge||1954||Won|
|||158||70||Manchester, England||Old Trafford||1955||Lost|
Denis Compton is mentioned in Fawlty Towers , series 1 episode 2 "The Builders". Upon arriving back at the hotel Basil notices that his cut price builders have made a mess of some renovations. Basil and Polly discuss whose fault this is with Basil blaming Polly "you were left in charge" and Manuel "he was supposed to wake you" before Basil sarcastically asks Polly "well whose fault is it then you cloth eared bint? Denis Compton's?"
Compton is referred to in the second episode of series 2 of Ever Decreasing Circles , "The Cricket Match", when Martin explains to his neighbour Paul that Compton never undermined his county captain George Mann, despite being the better player.
In Tim Rice's Oscar acceptance speech for the song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", he thanked Denis Compton "a childhood hero of mine".
In As Time Goes By , series 3 episode 3 "Living Together, But Where?". When Lionel is cleaning his flat, he wonders if should keep his copy of the book "End of an Innings", written by Denis Compton.
Michael William Gatting is an English former cricketer, who played first-class cricket for Middlesex and for England from 1977 to 1995, captaining the national side in twenty-three Test matches between 1986 and 1988. He toured South Africa as captain of the rebel tour party in 1990.
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Albert Edwin Trott was a Test cricketer for both Australia and England. He was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1899. He is believed to be the only batsman to have struck a ball over the top of the Lord's Pavilion. He is also one of only two players to take two hat-tricks in the same first-class innings, the other being Joginder Rao. Despite his notability, having played in 375 first-class matches including 5 Tests, he was almost penniless when he committed suicide at the age of 41.
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.
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Elias Henry Hendren, known as Patsy Hendren, was an English first-class cricketer, active 1907 to 1937, who played for Middlesex and England. He also had a concurrent career as a footballer and had a long tenure with Brentford F.C.. He was born in Turnham Green and died in Tooting Bec. A right-handed batsman who occasionally bowled off breaks, Hendren was one of the most prolific batsmen of the inter-war period, averaging 47.63 in his 51 Test matches and 50.80 in all his first-class matches. He has the third highest first-class run aggregate of 57,611 runs, and his total of 170 centuries ranks second only to Hobbs, who was a personal friend. Hendren was a noted wit, a keen practical joker and had a talent for mimicry.
Thomas Walter Hayward was an English first-class cricketer who played for Surrey and England between the 1890s and the outbreak of World War I. He was primarily an opening batsman, noted especially for the quality of his off-drive. Neville Cardus wrote that he "was amongst the most precisely technical and most prolific batsmen of any time in the annals of cricket." He was only the second batsman to reach the landmark of 100 first-class centuries, following WG Grace. In the 1906 English season he scored 3,518 runs, a record aggregate since surpassed only by Denis Compton and Bill Edrich in 1947.
William John Edrich DFC was a first-class cricketer who played for Middlesex, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), Norfolk and England.
John David Benbow "Jack" Robertson was an English cricketer, who played county cricket for Middlesex, and in eleven Tests for England.
Nicholas Richard Denis Compton is an English former first-class cricketer who most recently played for Middlesex County Cricket Club. The grandson of Denis Compton, he represented England in 16 Test matches.
Leonard Charles Braund was a cricketer who played for Surrey, Somerset and England.
William Gilbert Anthony Parkhouse was a Welsh cricketer who played in seven Tests for England in 1950, 1950–51 and 1959.
1947 was the 48th season of County Championship cricket in England. It is chiefly remembered for the batting performances of Denis Compton and Bill Edrich who established seasonal records that, with the subsequent reduction in the number of first-class matches, will probably never be broken. Their form was key to their team Middlesex winning the County Championship for the first time since 1921, although they were involved in a tight contest for the title with the eventual runners-up Gloucestershire, for whom Tom Goddard was the most outstanding bowler of the season. Compton and Edrich were assisted by the fact that it was the driest and sunniest English summer for a generation, ensuring plenty of good batting wickets.
Richard Cecil Denis Compton is a retired South African cricketer.
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Sam David Robson is an Australian born English cricketer who plays for Middlesex County Cricket Club. He is a right-handed batsman and occasional legbreak bowler. Born to an Australian father and English mother, Robson played under-19 cricket for Australia but qualified for England in August 2013. In 2012 he became the first batsman to score a first-class hundred in England in the month of March.
Bernard James Tindal Bosanquet was an English cricketer best known for inventing the googly, a delivery designed to deceive the batsman. When bowled, it appears to be a leg break, but after pitching the ball turns in the opposite direction to that which is expected, behaving as an off break instead. Bosanquet, who played first-class cricket for Middlesex between 1898 and 1919, appeared in seven Test matches for England as an all-rounder. He was chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1905.
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| Middlesex County Cricket Captain |
(jointly with Bill Edrich)