No Prior concern for Compton
England are still confident Nick Compton is capable of delivering big runs when it matters most.
Compton has been unable to instantly repay the faith shown in him, to continue as England's Test opener, in their only warm-up fixture before the first of three matches against New Zealand next week.
The 29-year-old was bounced out for a single by Mark Gillespie on Friday, to add to his first-innings 21, before England overcame a wobble to 67 for four to reach 256 for nine by the close.
That put them 333 runs ahead going into the final day of four against a New Zealand XI at the Queenstown Event Centre ground, thanks principally to a near run-a-ball half-century from Matt Prior (68) and then Graeme Swann's brisk, unbeaten 41 at number 10.
It was far from an entirely convincing performance, however, as they conceded a surge of boundaries this morning to Corey Anderson (67) and BJ Watling (66no) before the hosts declared behind on 349 for seven.
As well as Compton, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have also been short of runs over the past three days. But Prior is backing both them, and Alastair Cook's new opening partner, to come good.
Compton has been given the chance to consolidate his hard work in the historic series win in India before Christmas, as England again resist the temptation to take a punt just yet on pushing young Yorkshireman Joe Root up to open the innings.
"He would want to have gone out and smashed a hundred," Prior said.
"But he's hitting the ball brilliantly in the nets, and it will be down to him to get his preparation right going into the Test.
"You can score all the runs you want in the world in warm-up games, but ultimately that first innings of the Test match is where we want Compo to go and score a big hundred."
The same goes for Pietersen and Trott, who have both proved many times before that they are adept at rising to the occasion.
"The guys are experienced enough and have played long enough now to know that the big test starts next week, and that's when it's important they score runs.
"They've been on tours where they haven't scored any runs in warm-up games, and then blitzed a hundred in the first Test."
England got themselves into a spot of bother, with Gillespie taking four wickets, before Prior dominated an important stand with Root.
"Obviously, it wasn't great to start off with - you don't want to lose early wickets," he said.
"Those guys at the top would love to score hundreds every time they walk out to bat, but that's not possible.
"In that scenario, it's up to the middle and lower order to bail the team out - and, from that point of view, it was excellent practice.
"For me personally, to be in that position - not dissimilar to how it would be in a Test match, if we'd lost a few early wickets with bowlers running in hard - to knuckle down and find a bit of rhythm out in the middle is perfect preparation.
"That's very, very pleasing... what you're trying to get out of warm-up matches."
While Compton's only recourse was to return to the nets to keep confidence intact, Prior is delighted to have demonstrated his good form in a tight situation against talented opposition.
"You can net as much as you want, have middle practices among each other, but there's nothing quite like the real thing," he said.
"We'd far prefer this from a warm-up match than guys just coming in and going through the motions.
"You don't want dead cricket, and we're going in tomorrow with the opportunity to win a game.
"From a preparation point of view, it's absolutely fantastic."
England's bowlers took a battering first thing, Graham Onions suffering in particular as Anderson and Watling launched an onslaught against the second new ball.
But Prior reported that at least Stuart Broad - who conceded 33 runs in six overs - is bowling well, despite the heel injury which has troubled him in recent months.
Asked how the ball is coming into his gloves from Broad, the England wicketkeeper said: "Very hard.
"He bowled with good pace, hit a good area and looks in very, very good nick.
"That's very, very exciting for us."
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.