Middlesex v Sussex, Lord's, 1st day June 5, 2013

Rogers' calm is what Australia need

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Lord's

Middlesex 320 for 3 (Rogers 161*, Dexter 62*, Robson 54) v Sussex

There cannot be much more to say about Chris Rogers. Rarely will you see a player so in-tune with his own game. He is not the type of player to bring you out of your seat, but more one that fluffs the cushions, covers you in a blanket and assures you that everything is going to be okay, before he goes about his business. On this occasion that meant batting for the entire day and returning with 161 unbeaten runs. It is the kind of calming assurance Australia desperately need.

There was a green tinge out in the middle during the morning and it was enough to convince Ed Joyce to bowl first, as he put faith in the pitch but more so in his opening bowlers who already have 72 wickets between them. Almost immediately it looked like paying dividends, as Chris Jordan and Steve Magoffin gave Rogers and Sam Robson nothing.

Three balls into the seventh over, Magoffin tempted Rogers - with just three runs to his name - to come forward and drive at a ball that wasn't quite there. An edge was skewed to Michael Yardy at second slip, but was put down.

It was the second of three lucky breaks for Rogers - also dropped on 105 by Jordan at first slip off the bowling of Will Beer - but, he ensured the most was made of every one of them. The first occurred before a ball was even bowled, as he walked out to the middle with every intention to bat. Upon losing the toss, he could not help but crack a wry smile when his opposite number invited him to do so anyway.

He and Robson negotiated the first 45 minutes well before settling in and making their patience count with runs. As usual, Robson was the aggressor in the partnership, as Rogers took his time to adjust to the pace of the pitch. By lunch, the pair had put on 100, with Robson bringing up his half-century before being dismissed on the stroke of the interval. It was enough to see him pass 700 first-class runs for the season - something Rogers also achieved when he moved to 148. Without a doubt, they are the best openers in the country, both in terms of runs and on-field collaboration.

One noticeable element about Rogers' batting is that it lacks any pretention. Runs are collected behind square on both sides of the wicket - predominantly between gully and point, which brings gasps from the opposition cordon and a telling look from the bowler. He is a frustrator of bowlers, duping them with all the savviness of an ageing counter-puncher. It's certainly something England and their impetuous fast bowlers need to be aware of when he plays for Australia later this summer.

Even Magoffin, who watched Rogers pile on the runs when the pair shared a dressing room at Western Australia, ended the day as one of the duped. Coming over the wicket with the new ball only five overs old, Magoffin shaped three deliveries away - two full and one back of a length - before moving two back in, which Rogers was able to leave on line and then length. Desperate to make him play, the next ball was much straighter and the fullest of the lot. As such, it was picked off immaculately through midwicket for four - Rogers seemingly in position for the shot before Magoffin had even started his approach.

In the evening session, Neil Dexter ably supported his captain with some nicely timed shots through cover as he brought up his fourth half-century of the season, as Sussex looked increasingly frustrated turned down appeals and a flat pitch.

The one crumb of comfort for Sussex was Beer, drafted in to replace Monty Panesar who fell victim to a shoulder complaint he has been dealing with for most of the season. The young leg spinner, in his sixth Championship game, rarely forced the ball down, bowling at a good pace to impart some nice drift. It was his quicker ball that trapped Robson on the crease for his first wicket of the match, before a nicely flighted googly went up the hill and through the bat and pad of Joe Denly to bowl him.

But ultimately, with more than 300 on the board and only three wickets taken (not to mention the use of seven bowlers), the Championship leaders are already under the cosh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Frank on June 10, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer Every single human being on earth who has ever picked up a cricket bat is vulnerable early in their innings.

    @koushik2412 Ferguson has a FC avg of 36 vs Rogers, Ferguson never played County vs Rogers County avg 55, recent Aus domestic season Rogers avg 51 vs ferguson below 30 avg, Rogers FC 100's 60 vs Ferguson 8 + Rogers is currently averaging in the 70's in county cricket, the list of stats go on and on, why on earth would you pick Ferg? Ashes is the pinnicle, you pick an 80 year old if he is your best chance of making runs.

  • Yasin on June 8, 2013, 2:19 GMT

    I ve also serious doubt about warner. I don't think he survive even the 1st over. So there is no place for warner. My xi would be : Rogers, Watson, Cowan, hughes, Pup, Usman, Haddin, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon.

  • Aswin on June 7, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    As it is , it is difficult to pick a xi from the gobsmacking 15 named by the selectors- i think shoulg have been the squad for Australia: Watson. Cowan, Rogers, Clarke, Hughes, Smith Haddin, Starc, Harris, Siddle and Lyon

    Reserves: Voges, Wade, Ahmed, Pattinson, Johnson and Faulkner

  • Mark on June 6, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    @RandyOz Just a warning: he has a major technical flaw that is well known on the county circuit. Just as the England bowlers studied Phil Hughes in 2009, they know that Chris Rogers is vulnerable early in his innings... if you have the skill to exploit it.

  • Mark on June 6, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    @HansonKoch Since when has T20 form been the way to pick a Test side? I know that it is how David Warner got in, but it is not the usual route to a successful side: one thing is a 3 over slog, another is having the discipline to bat through a whole day.

  • Dummy4 on June 6, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    It amazes me that cricket Australia feel that they have to bring some obscure legspinner over when what the squad so desperately needs is someone with some real batting form to place competitive pressure on all our batsmen. Lyon would be more than capable of taking wickets when we have 400 on the board and England are 4/50 but he or any other spinner will never be the decisive factor this Ashes.I dont know what Sam Robson's problem is but maybe CA need to book him an all expenses paid holiday to Byron Bay to remind him of the beautiful climate and lifestyle he seems keen to leave behind.I guess they could start a discussion over fish and chips on a rainy windswept midsummer afternoon on a stony English beach then send him over to Byron or the Gold Coast mid spring so he can compare the 2 experiences and come to his senses but if he can be persuaded to join our squad then Australia's chances will be much brighter. Incidentally Steve Smith scored a ton in an Intra A warm up match.

  • Aswin on June 6, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Vithushan Ehantharajah

    u r an emerging superstar of cricket writing

  • Randolph on June 6, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    Great call to bring him into the Ashes squad!

  • Hanson on June 6, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    Rogers, definitely. Hughes, yes because he's been a prolific centurion in County Cricket. Watson, yes, because of his recent IPL form. Clarke, of course. Warner, maybe down the order but he's on warning. And that's about it from this squad. And of that lot Clarke and Rogers are the only too who've really earned it.

    Khawaja, don't get the hype. Should've eft him at home and signed Robson.

    But the man we really need is Mr Cricket.

  • Mark on June 6, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Top of the table class between two sides with serious Championship aspirations and an unexpected twist. Both sides have powerful bowling attacks and one might have expected another low-scoring game, dominated by the bowlers. Instead, Middlesex fans have seen something that they have witness all too rarely over the last 8 years: a day of (almost total) batting domination. Although Rogers and Robson have become probably the best opening partnership in the country, all too often a big opening stand has been followed by a big clatter of wickets. This time Rogers has batted on and "Fireball" Dexter has given him willing support.

    Middlesex are getting into a position of total domination. Only 14 overs remain for Sussex to take 3 more wickets to claim a second bowling point. If Middlesex can deny it to them, not only will they be completely safe from defeat, but they will have cut the points gap at the top and made a big statement of intentions.

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