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Batting woes have Rogers, Voges in Ashes contention

Daniel Brettig

April 3, 2013

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Chris Rogers scored 101 to put Victoria on top, Victoria v Queensland, Sheffield Shield, Melbourne, February 19, 2013
Chris Rogers has an outstanding first-class record in England © Getty Images
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So worried are Australia's selectors by the lack of batting quality available to them for this year's dual Ashes assignments that the seasoned duo of Chris Rogers and Adam Voges are being seriously considered for Test squad duty.

The national selector John Inverarity mentioned both Rogers, 35, and Voges, 33, as possible Ashes tourists while speaking at some length about Australia's widespread batting problems as he announced the list of centrally contracted players for 2013-14. Only six specialist batsmen were granted contracts among the 20 players chosen, leaving Inverarity's panel plenty of scope to choose batsmen from outside the list when they name an Ashes squad of 17.

Rogers and Voges both have the advantage of considerable batting experience in England, the former an especially prolific performer during northern summers. Rogers, who played his only Test match in 2008, has compiled 9,230 first-class runs at an average of 53.97 in England with 28 centuries, the vast majority made at the top of the order against the moving ball.

Voges' record is not quite as imposing, but his 2736 runs at 45.60 with four centuries for Nottinghamshire have added lustre when it is considered that the club's home ground, Trent Bridge, is where the first Test of the Ashes series will be played. Never chosen in a Test XI, Voges made a composed ODI century at the MCG earlier this year.

Inverarity said Rogers "has been and will be in discussions", and mentioned Voges alongside Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Alex Doolan as other batting contenders among the group who did not receive a CA contract. Overall, however, Inverarity maintained a disappointed if not quite bewildered tone at the problems of Australian batting, exposed as they were by a series of horrid displays in India.

"We do not have the batting depth in Australian cricket now that we enjoyed 15 years ago. We just don't. That's something that cricket in Australia really needs to address and we need to get more batsmen making runs prolifically," Inverarity said. "We thirst for players who do really well across all formats.

"That's a concern for Australian cricket, as we've said consistently in recent times. We are looking for consistent, prolific run-scorers in all forms of cricket. Those players to whom it doesn't matter whether it's white ball, red ball, Twenty20, whatever it is, they go out and they churn out the runs.

"There has been an absence of that in recent years in club cricket, domestic interstate cricket, and international cricket, and that needs to be a real focus of coaching and development in Australia. It's just got to be done, it needs to be done. That involves technique but mindset as well. That's what we need."

Australia's increasingly jumbled schedule of different formats both at junior and domestic levels has been a major bother for the selectors. Australia's limited-overs captain George Bailey made only one first-class half-century all summer, a famine largely attributable to a season in which he jumped ceaselessly from first-class to one-day to T20 and back again.

Inverarity cited the example of Doolan, who was the dominant domestic batsman in the early part of the season, peaking with an attractive century for Australia A against the South Africans at the SCG, but then spent much of the December-January period as a fringe player for the Melbourne Renegades in the BBL. Perhaps not surprisingly, he struggled to regain his earlier touch when the Sheffield Shield resumed.

Khawaja's case provides further cause for disquiet. His place as a reserve batsman for the national team kept him out of numerous Shield engagements for Queensland including the final. Whether or not Khawaja should have played Tests over that time is a matter for the selectors, but the schedule left them with precious little evidence on which to choose him.

"He worked very hard in India and did well, and he will be well prepared," Inverarity said. "He's strongly in contention for the Ashes, but it is a concern [the lack of first-class matches]. It's certainly not an ideal preparation, him not playing more red-ball cricket."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Clyde on (April 10, 2013, 15:15 GMT)

Probably time to split the codes. There could be a Test administration and an administrations of the others.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (April 8, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

@hyclass well said champ. For me i would keep the focus on Hughes, Khawaja and Warner as these 3 have the potential to make our batting world class. Focus has to be on the youth.

Posted by Mary_786 on (April 8, 2013, 0:16 GMT)

@hyIcass i agree completely with you. Khawaja and Harris are key additions to the ashes team. Sayers has impressed me simply because the pitch he bowls most on is a batting paradise in the Adelaide oval, good on the young man for making his mark this season. @katanthat3 i also expect Khawaja to fire in the ashes but also expect big runs from Clarke and Warner as well, for me its our batting which will decide the outcome of this series as both sides are strong on the bowling

Posted by popcorn on (April 7, 2013, 22:41 GMT)

Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are PRIMED and PUMPED UP to regain The Ashes. Both are HURTING from losing the Ashes in 2005 and 2009 in England,and again in 2011 at home.They MUST reconsider their decision to retire. WE NEED THEM. THEY INSTIL FEAR IN THE POMS. Ricky Ponting is in such good nick. He has just been awarded the best batsman award in Shield Cricket this year, and helped Tasmania win the Title.And he is fit as a fiddle. He is playing in the IPL and in the Carribean Premier League, so what 's this abut spending more time with the family at home? The Selectiors MUST DROP THEIR EGO and REACH OUT to Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey. These two guys will do ANYTHING for the Country - to REGAIN and RETAIN The Ashes.

Posted by Meety on (April 7, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

@Claydo78 on (April 6, 2013, 10:53 GMT) - won't argue, just reckon that was the theory! I think Watto is the most vulnerable, & I don't think they are really serious (could be wrong) about Voges. That said, Voges did well in his ODI chance, & given the NSP don't seem to know what goes on in the Shield - maybe they do want to select him?

Posted by Hammond on (April 7, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Australia. 4th in tests, 4th in odi's, and 7th in T20. To aggregate this, they are about the 5th best cricket country in the world at the moment. I would say that is about accurate. Not even bog average anymore, they are now officially below average. Don't see how re-recruiting Dad's army to reinforce a techniqueless middle order is going to help them improve that situation.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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