The 29-year-old marked his fifth Test with a breakthrough innings as he and Alastair Cook shared a record stand of 231. Both made hundreds, the peerless captain his 24th, to help right the wrongs of England's first innings as the tourists closed day four of the first Test against New Zealand at the University Oval on 234 for one - trailing by 59.
Following his unbeaten 102, Compton, grandson of England great Denis, said: "It's the biggest relief of my life. To get to this moment was something special."
Compton had many reasons for satisfaction as he upheld a famous family tradition and vindicated the faith of Cook and coach Andy Flower.
"I never thought perhaps a year ago or (even) a couple of months ago I'd be sitting here right now with a hundred," added Compton, who was watched and later richly congratulated by his father Richard.
"I kept believing, but it's been a long time. It's a strange feeling ... but I'm just delighted to be here."
Compton's chanceless innings stuttered only when he entered the 90s, he and Cook (116) both close to being run out as he tried to sneak his way to three figures with a series of tight singles.
Asked if he felt nervous over those final 10 runs, he said: "Yes ... definitely. I was holding back emotions as much as I could. I was itching to have a flap at the spinner before the new ball.
"But obviously there's a bigger picture - drawing the game is probably the best result we can get now - and that was something Cookie reminded me of.
"I managed to rein myself in ... tried to hold my nerve. I'm going to cut myself some slack. There were a few nerves there, but I thought I handled those 90s pretty well."
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