Investec Ashes 2015 June 24, 2015

Rogers admits to 'naivety' - but not deception

Play 01:11
'There was no intent to deceive' - Rogers

"This is something that could attract a year's jail in this country, do you think someone should have flagged that up before now?"

That'll make your eyes widen, won't it? Particularly when you're an Australian Test cricketer about to embark on his final series in England. Chris Rogers stammered slightly in answering this question, before reiterating his story about how he came to be involved in a small tour group operation that has subsequently been found to have sprung up outside the accepted channels.

Rogers had made no secret of his hospitality plan around the Lord's Test, but a back page story screeching "BANNED" suggested he had been involved in a rather greater conspiracy. So too did some disapproving words emanating from Middlesex, the club where Rogers had become a highly successful senior pro in recent years, and through whom he had purchased the tickets in question.

"Look in hindsight I've found out I should probably have gone in a different way," Rogers said in Canterbury. "But there was no intent to do anything other than start up a very small company and provide a good experience of London which I've been lucky enough to spend some time in. The tickets have been refunded and no money has been exchanged with Middlesex so hopefully no harm done.

"It was an idea a friend and I came up with a little while back. It was for a very small group of people and I went about it in what I thought was the right way but it turned out it probably wasn't. I probably learned a lesson but there was no intent to deceive or anything like that. I'm a little bit disappointed about how things turned out but I think I was open and honest with everything I did."

As a 37-year-old cricketer now actively thinking about what lies beyond the remaining months of his international career, Rogers entered into the partnership with his former Middlesex teammate Tom Scollay thinking it might be the start of something he could expand in retirement.

He had no experience of the now complicated and commodified world of tour groups, but in speaking with both Cricket Australia and Middlesex says he was given little if any impression he was going down a dangerous path. Naivety?

"Yes I think that's the word that's come up a little bit, but it's funny because everybody I spoke to - and I spoke to everyone - and told them what I was doing, no one suggested to me I do it any other way," he said. "So I didn't realise…I think I was supposed to go through ECB but I went through Middlesex who are the people I know, so you know I didn't think I was doing anything wrong.

"I have a fantastic relationship with Middlesex. I think there's been a little bit of a misunderstanding. I was open and honest with them about what I was doing from the very beginning, and if there's been a little bit of miscommunication amongst them then that's for them to work out. But from the very early emails I told them what I was doing and they suggested this is the way I go about it.

"It's not something I want to get into because as I said Middlesex have been amazing to me and I've got nothing but respect for the people in that organisation so hopefully I can continue that relationship. It was something I was hoping maybe I was able to develop after cricket which is coming very soon. It's been a bit of a distraction but the cricket starts tomorrow really and I'm pretty good at getting on with it."

One of the questions that emerged from the episode, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, was that Scollay had sent emails promising special access to the Australian team. Rogers was unaware of these promises, and even suggested that the "special guests" Scollay had been spruiking were most likely going to be fellow Middlesex men like Steven Finn and Sam Robson, Rogers' longtime opening partner at the club. When contacted by the ECB, Finn denied any involvement with the venture.

"I told Cricket Australia I'd be involved very briefly," Rogers said. "The other people that were going to be in were the likes of Steven Finn and even guys like Sammy Robson, who are our friends. We weren't trying to do anything wrong, we were trying to do the right thing and apologies if it's come out badly.

"CA knew everything. I was open and honest with them from the word dot. So they knew it and that's probably why they've been so supportive of me because I didn't deceive anyone. I was open and transparent with everyone."

Rogers' openness about the episode reflected a clear conscience, and diminishing irritation at how things had unravelled. Chosen in Australia's carefully constructed tour match XI for the Kent fixture, he knows he needs runs to shore up a place in the Test side and ward of younger challengers. And that is a far more familiar problem for Rogers than answering questions about jail.

"That's my job," he said. "I'm ready to play and just looking forward to tomorrow."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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