Nick Compton: Graeme Swann backs England opener

England opener Nick Compton

England spinner Graeme Swann says Nick Compton will find top form and insists criticism of the opener is unfair.

Compton's run of low scores continued with just seven in the second innings against New Zealand at Headingley.

He has scored only 39 runs in the series and Sunday's failure increased scrutiny over his place for the Ashes.

"He's had a fairly low-scoring game and not quite hit the standards he expects from himself but we all know what a magnificent player he is," said Swann.

The Nottinghamshire off-spinner, who took 4-42 in New Zealand's 174 all out, added: "We are in a performance-judged line of work but I think it is a bit unfair because he showed his mettle and class [with back-to-back hundreds] in New Zealand."

Since that pair of centuries in Dunedin and Wellington, Compton has managed just 54 runs in six Test innings.

Granted an opportunity for one last Test innings before the Ashes start on 10 July by Alastair Cook's decision not to enforce the follow-on, he made seven from 45 balls before he was caught at short leg off part-time spinner Kane Williamson.

Cook went on to score 88 not out as England closed on 116-1 for a lead of 296, but in the post-play news conference many of the questions directed at Swann related to Compton's poor form.

"It's always a shame when someone misses out," said Swann. "But Nick played with aplomb in New Zealand during the winter and has the support of everyone in the dressing-room.

"I bowl at him in the nets so I know how good a player he is. As with any batsman you are only one score away from a flood of runs. He'll be back and he'll be scoring heavily in no time."

Swann took three wickets in his first two overs to rip through the Kiwis' middle order - his first Test scalps since surgery to correct a long-standing elbow complaint.

And the 34-year-old said he was pleased to be back to his best at the start of a summer featuring a Champions Trophy and Ashes series.

"I was always optimistic I'd be able to perform but whether you are still going to have the rhythm and the spin in your fingers you are never too sure," he said.

"So I'm delighted that it seems to be coming out nicely so far. It feels like it did 18 months ago so it's very encouraging for me."

Swann also backed Cook's decision to bat again after dismissing New Zealand 24 runs short of the follow-on target.

"We thought the best way to win that game was to go back out and put a fatigued New Zealand back in to the field," he added.

"We wanted to try to build a formidable lead, let the pitch deteriorate, the foot-holes develop and give ourselves the best chance of bowling them out in the second innings."

New Zealand's attack will be deprived of the services of Trent Boult on Monday.

The seamer, who took 5-57 in England's first-innings 354, was forced off the field after bowling just two overs in their second innings after aggravating a side strain.

Listen to match highlights and Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott's analysis of each day's play on the Test Match Special podcast.

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