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Four magical, suffocating days in Perth

For one of Australia's openers in their 2008 match against India at the WACA, it was the only Test he has played

Chris Rogers

January 11, 2012

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

The Indians appeal against Chris Rogers, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day, January 17, 2008
Rogers falls to Pathan on day two © Getty Images
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I've heard that many guys don't end up remembering the first Test match they play - it becomes a blur in the excitement of it all. But when it turns out to be your one and only, you savour every moment in retrospect.

It's nearly four years to the day since I received an unexpected phone call from then chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, telling me I had been added to the squad as cover for an injured Matthew Hayden. Australia were riding high on the back of a record-equalling 16 straight Test wins and had flown into my hometown, Perth, after beating India in an incident-packed game in Sydney, which featured the infamous Harbhajan-Symonds Monkeygate affair.

Walking into that Australian change room, I wasn't really sure what to make of it. On the one hand, my life had just taken off dramatically, and on the other all the talk was about how we had to be on our best behaviour. Throw in a team full of legends on each side, and uncertainty about whether I was even going to play, and it was a confusing couple of days. It wasn't until after training two days before the game, when I watched Hayden limp through a fitness test and shake his head, that I realised a life dream had come true.

All that awaited was a few sleepless nights and then the honour of pulling on that elusive baggy green in front of a packed WACA ground.

The preparation seemed low key. Perhaps the players were a little jaded after four Tests and a number of flights, with two Tests to go. I don't remember being summoned to any meetings, and I was left to my own devices the practice-free day before. On the eve of the game I even managed to have dinner with my parents. But not a minute went by when I wasn't thinking of the challenge ahead.

I can tell you it's an amazing and humbling experience to walk into a change room that has Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Andrew Symonds, plus a few more in it. It's easy to get caught up in star-gazing. And when they pat you on the back when you are presented your cap by Test legend Justin Langer, it's positively daunting.

As much as I loved every moment of it, there was an unmistakable current of tension running through the side. The fallout from Monkeygate, and Cricket Australia's reticence to pursue it, were playing havoc. It seemed as though the cricket was a sideshow.

It was almost a relief for me when we lost the toss and were made to field. I thought it might give me some time to adjust to the feel of Test cricket.

Rod Marsh used to warn against playing Tests in Perth in January, and sure enough, it was a blazing 40-degree day and I spent most of the morning fruitlessly chasing Virender Sehwag and Co's cover-drives out towards the practice wickets.

A slow pitch, unlike any I had played on the WACA, plus the heat, combined to blunt our four-paceman bowling attack. During the off-season a decision had been taken to replace the top few inches of the pitch with sods, and all season it had been unpredictable. My WA team-mate Brad Hogg had been hoping to play a Test for the first time on his home ground but was made 12th man. I felt for him.

Tennis-ball bounce and the lack of swing or seam took the sting out of Lee, Johnson, Stuart Clark and Tait. Both Lee and Tait were reaching the 150kph mark, but the Indians seemed to have time to spare playing them.

A century partnership by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar unfolded in front of me, and by the time we removed them, the heat had almost knocked us out.

Taity, in his first Test in Australia, had bowled a horror last over before lunch. In trying to fit another in before the break, he overstepped and wided, and the confidence seemed to flow out of the big man on the cut strip - in front of 20-odd thousand people. He had gone into the match with an injured hamstring.

By the end of the first day our backs were up against it, after we'd dismissed only six of the Indian batsmen. I don't think I'd ever been so drained after a day. Not only had the heat been unbearable, the intensity of the contest and a bigger crowd than I'd ever played in front of made for a unique experience.

The next morning turned out to be productive for us, and I even managed to take a decent diving catch at point. Then it was my turn to bat. Comments from the crowd when fielding, like "Get ready to bat Rogers" and "Don't stuff up" were friendly, I'm sure. Shame they did nothing to ease my ever-growing nerves.

A cover-drive out of the middle to the scoreboard boundary slowed my heartbeat considerably, and I thought I was ready to get stuck in and grind out some runs. An iffy lbw decision - I thought it was sliding down leg - put an end to that, and before I knew it, I was taking off the pads in extreme disappointment.

 
 
I will always remember telling my father that facing every ball was like a match in itself, due to the pressure that comes with that level of cricket. Michael Hussey said after the game that people who thought batting in Shield cricket was harder than Tests had rocks in their head
 

Suddenly we were in all sorts of trouble. The bland pitch that had blunted our quickies came alive for the Indians, and their medium-pace seamers had our batsmen in all sorts of trouble. In what seemed the blink of an eye we were back out in the field 118 behind - with Sehwag cutting balls for fun as we scrambled to limit the damage.

My mood wasn't made any better when standing next to the umpire who had given me out - Asad Rauf. He told me that if he'd had the benefit of the replay, he wouldn't have given me out. It felt like a punch to the chest. But I wasn't the first person to get a dodgy decision, and I won't be the last. Still, I respected him for telling me that, even after Hawk-Eye had estimated the ball was angling crazily back to clip the leg stump.

As with every time I'm dismissed, I analysed what I did wrong and saw I'd fallen towards the off side getting out in the first innings, and was determined not to repeat the mistake. I was in good touch getting to 15, and felt I was doing a lot of good things. Then Pathan produced a gem - directed at off, forcing me to play and moving away late, that I could only get an edge to - and my first Test was over.

I will always remember telling my father that facing every ball was like a match in itself, due to the pressure that comes with that level of cricket. Michael Hussey said after the game that people who thought batting in Shield cricket was harder than Tests had rocks in their head. The pressure from the crowd and the media was almost suffocating.

It would have been nice to be a part of a record-breaking side, but it wasn't to be. I do remember the pure elation of being picked and the soul-crushing disappointment of failure and losing. What happened in the middle still feels like it passed in the blink of an eye.

Shaking hands at the end, I prayed I would get at least one more chance to sing the winning song and prove to myself I belonged in Test cricket. "Get more runs," I was told when I lost my Australian contract at the end of that summer.

But I feel privileged to have squeezed into one of the best Australian teams ever, and to have had an experience at the very peak of my sport. And as all one-Test wonders must sing to themselves in the shower occasionally: "You can't take that away from me..."

Victoria opener Chris Rogers played one Test match for Australia

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 12, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Thanks for reminding us of another seires India didn't win in Australia. There are plenty of them, because they never have won one!

Posted by Simoc on (January 12, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

It's always a timing thing. Oz had poor selectors and policy at the time, the worst ever with the best team. Katich who was more a three or five bat probably got Rogers spot.

Posted by mehulmatrix on (January 12, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

Wonderful article with actual insights from a personal perspective.Wuhh..Rogers has played 200 FC and averages 50! My goodness, he still didnt get further chances for Aussies. I think when Hayden retired he should have considered. Pretty much similar scenario like hussey who came when he was 29.Very unlucky indeed. Players like Hayden, martyn and langer also came through such a tough grind and were fantastic players. I guess the current aussies setup is losing the way with over-emphasis on young players and the results are there to show. Hughes/Warner/ Marsh all have come through w/o much FC matches or long term performances. I dont think they will be good players over the long run. Also Rogers is pretty happy with life and not getting more chances, good outlook thats. Theres much more to life and cricket, apart from international matches.

Posted by Coco-SCC on (January 12, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

Good on you, Chris, for writing about this. Great maturity. Seems as though some current players would not have the humilty to pen something of this nature. You have one more of something that millions of us covet :) !

Posted by JohnnyP on (January 12, 2012, 2:40 GMT)

Thanks Chris for a well-written, insightful article. Congratulations on your distinguished career in Australia and England. Like many cricket followers, I've long believed that under a different selection policy you would have been a reliable and long-term prescence at the top of Australia's batting order.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2012, 0:23 GMT)

Very interesting and honest artice. One thing that does really suprise me is comments like:

" I don't remember being summoned to any meetings, and I was left to my own devices the practice-free day before" and "On the eve of the game I even managed to have dinner with my parents."

That doesnt sound like a team that particularly includes newcomers?? Kind of feels like a group of cool kids who have no time or need for the newbies. Strikes me a little strange that team management would select the guy, and just leave him there, and the senior players wouldnt reach out to him...sounds like the writing on the wall was there before he even played a test.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 11, 2012, 23:59 GMT)

In an alternate universe, Chris Rogers opens the batting with Michael Hussey. The two lefties threaten to cover drive the shine off the ball until Huss pulls one straight to midwicket. Ponting comes in at first drop followed by an ego-less Brad Hodge who scores another effortless double century to add to his 10,000 test runs. With the imminent arrival of the new ball Katich steadies the ship at no.5 while David Hussey takes full value from the old ball and a tired attack with his frenetic batting at 6. The ever reliable Mitchell Johnson comes in at 7 after taking 5/35 in the 1st innings and blasts an 80-ball century. Steve O'Keefe thumps some boundaries before leaving the silky hands of Graham Manou to support the tail of Copeland (who picked up both both openers with his 145kph metronomic line & length) and Dale Steyn who recently qualified to play for Ausralia. The 2010/11 Ashes are retained by Australia as they increase their lead at the top of the ICC Test rankings.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

awesome article, @chris roger, buddy u should be a writer ! :)

Posted by Harvey on (January 11, 2012, 19:40 GMT)

I watched Rogers play for Middlesex quite a few times last year, and even now he's better than the likes of Hughes, Khawaja, and others who keep getting selected for Australia.

Posted by Smithie on (January 11, 2012, 19:28 GMT)

@leggie Indian bullying comes via their control of ICC voting system thru their financial intimidation of most Boards except England, Australia and NZ. This is not an issue to just let lay since it is making cricket look ridiculous playing under two sets of conditions. This was reiterated yesterday by the MCC World Cricket Committee who slammed India for their refusal to accept DRS- the Committee includes 14 past Test Captains with both Kumble and Dravid in that group. As for enjoying the cricket, it is much more enjoyable when umpiring errors do not impact on the game eg Hussey in the Melbourne Test!

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

If it's any consolation, Chris, Irfan Pathan also got a raw deal from his selectors.

Posted by popcorn on (January 11, 2012, 18:07 GMT)

Chris Rogers is a good opener, and certainly deserved more than just one Test. Certainly more than Phil Hughes.Even the umpire admits he got it wrong, declaring Chris Rogers lbw.

Posted by Leggie on (January 11, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

@Smithie: In a democratic world, everyone has a point of view and I fail to understand why India's decision to shy away from DRS is making people believe India is bullying! Majority of the Indian players believe DRS is a work in progress technology and hence their recommendation to BCCI for staying away from it.. I don't know if you followed the India vs England series where with Hot-Spot 8 correct decisions and 8 wrong decisions were noted. As far as ball tracking system, Virtual Eye admits that this has to be improved (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/548069.html). Let's put this DRS discussion to end please. Not everything in life has to be linked to DRS. Let the authorities concerned address this & as fans let's enjoy watching cricket. If you're an Aussie fan please enjoy the emerging bowling line-up. It's surely assuming World class proportions-in the same class as McGrath, Gillespie, Lee & Warne. As an Indian fan cannot wait to see Sachin, Dravid & Sachin take them on

Posted by BYRO on (January 11, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

Fitzy - correct in some respects but wide of the mark in the main issue.

I am not necessarily referring to just the current incumbents of the top 3 - but when Langer and Hayden departed there was numerous opportunities for Rogers to be given the type of lengthy opportunity that has been offered to the others - i.e. when Jacques played, when Katich played as an opener, when they converted Watson into an opener - Rogers was never afforded these opportunities because Ponting picked his mates.

Posted by Manoj.Lunkad on (January 11, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

Great article Chris... I feel the controversial Sydney test brought Indian team together and the fortunes changed too. Hard luck u couldnt play more after that... but if u r still around, I am sure you can get inside the current Australian top order... which by the way looks very very fragile...

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

Made for a great read - almost felt like I played my first test match. :)

Posted by Smithie on (January 11, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

Chris nails the start of the "Indian problem" that still haunts world cricket today. CA should not have buckled and let India get on their chartered plane and terminate the tour. Once you let a bully start they just keep going for more. DRS should be the issue on which to make a stand and force India to come in line with the rest of the world. Is Alan Isaacs the new ICC chief going to stand up to Mr Srinivasan. For the good of cricket I hope so!

Posted by Gizza on (January 11, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

In terms of the batting, India's oldies and youngsters have both failed while Australia's oldies have blossomed and returned to form but their youngsters have failed so far. It is part of India's cricketing culture to regularly give debuts to 19-22 years olds while Australia generally gives them much later after accumulating more first-class experience and have delivered consistent performances. I'm of the view that unless the youngster is very clearly going to be the next Bradman or Tendulkar or Lara (they have that magical touch) it is best for them to do the hard yards for a couple of years at least in first-class cricket. Some young batsmen may come back stronger after being dropped, but many seem to lose their way and confidence. And even if they are ready 4 years later, bringing them in early was still a waste of time from the team's point of view.

Posted by Fitzy16 on (January 11, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

What all of you always dont realise about the above players is that they are all mid thirties.

When Hodge, Rogers etc were in their prime, we were winning test matches at will, and hayden/ponting/martyn were making bucket loads of runs, so there wasnt an opportunity.

theres no point picking a 35 year old from shield cricket to play for 12 months, your better off picking a 26-27-28 year old with potential.

Rogers didnt take his opportunity, Hodge averaged low twenties in his last 3 tests. thus, didnt make the cut.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Excellent article by Chris. He clearly presents what goes through a rookie test players mind. A good case study for new comers. Wish you the very best in the new year Chris. Keep playing and get "those runs" and come back in contention. Hussey has shown that it is Mind over Matter. So if you don't keep your last test performance in mind, it does not matter.

Posted by BYRO on (January 11, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

What a Superb, open and frank article by Chris Rogers.

The facts are the facts and its nothing short of a disgrace that Rogers hasn't been given the opportunity to open the innings for his Country for a number of years. He has scored runs where ever he has played.

The likes of Hughes, Cowan, Marsh & Warner aren't fit to lace Chris Rogers' boots - thats not just an opinion, stats prove it. Ponting and his fellow selectors should be ashamed of their selection policy - they have let Australia down by picking on PERSONALITY and not ABILITY & PERFORMANCE.

Posted by Leggie on (January 11, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

I havn't seen or heard much of Chris' batting - except for that Test match. Going by the reader's comments and Chris' writing style, he is probably in the same category of Kim Hughes... a very mild/quiet mannered Australian. Wonder if there is really any room in Australian cricket for such soft sounding guys. Pity that a person is shunned after just one Test. As Chris rightly points out, you're out even before your nerves settle in, and one of the best balls can get you out. A very nice article indeed - bringing a rare insight to one-Test wonders.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 12:11 GMT)

@ Beertjie, " hindsight" what a beautiful word, but i dont know why Australian selectors are so blind, for me, Rogers have 2 more year

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

One wrong decision changes many lives. The athlete, its family and many more. Just imagine the gazillion amoung of wrong decisions that Australian umpires gave since 1992 till date, counting the infamous SCG.... Umpires prove that are humans and they should not be dealt any differently than when a cricketer shows disappointment to any decision. Umpires should be penalized for more than 3 wrong decisions in a match. That outta teach them a lesson.

Posted by Beertjie on (January 11, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

Wonderful read, Chris. Like others, I can only wish you well, post-cricket and commiserate with you. During the lead-in to the break-up of the great team (2005-2007) my money was on Phil Jaques as one of the openers (I don't live in NSW, @Okakaboka). Rogers lost out to Jaques, but in hindsight it was a massive mistake, given Jaques' injury-proneness. Now they're taking a similar punt on Marsh. Will they never learn?

Posted by RakeshDash on (January 11, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

Good one Crisi...made my day...that was blatantly honest...Thanks mate...Keep rocking

Posted by buggyboy on (January 11, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

Good piece by Chris Rogers. Good to see his harsh treatment by the selectors hasn't made him bitter like Hodge or Katich. I hope he succeeds in his post cricket career too.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

Chris Rogers has been the best shield cricketer for the past 3 years since he played his only test. Absolute tragedy he never got a second chance!

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

well written mate.. i know you have scored bundles of run in first class cricket but thats how australia is..

Posted by Patchmaster on (January 11, 2012, 8:38 GMT)

Rogers should have had many more chances, ala Marsh etc. Huge shame.

Posted by Okakaboka on (January 11, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

If Rogers had come from NSW, he would have got 2 years to prove he wasn't up to scratch!

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 11, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

Chris Rogers has almost 17,000 First Class runs at an average of over 51, and got one Test. Meanwhile Shaun Marsh has fewer than 4,000 at less than 40 each, and is playing on Friday after scoring 0,3 and 0 in his last three Tests. No wonder Australia is where it is. The entire top 3 combined has scored fewer First Class runs than Chris Rogers!

Posted by DalesGuy on (January 11, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

very honest in his thoughts about that important Test

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (January 11, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

Guess the moral is if you are going to fail in your first Test then you'd better hope that the team doesn't lose. I know he was an injury replacement but surely was worthy of more than one Test.

Posted by Vleis on (January 11, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Nice article. I see that Rogers' first class average is above 50. I think that he would have been given many more opportunities to play test cricket if he did not have to compete with the talent that Oz possessed at the time.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

an honest and straight from the heart account from someone who played only one test in his career. i like the man.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

I feel so bad for Chris Rogers, he is my favorite Australian Player, he should have played at least 75 Test for Ausralia if not 100, if Simon Katich can play 56 test, Chris Rogers should have played 100 test simply because he is the second best opening batsmen ( after Hayden ) on his era, 16823 FC runs with 51 hundreds, Australian Selectors were bad enough to pick Phil Jaques and Katich head of Rogers, fell so sad for the lad, good luck Chris..that's what all i can say

Posted by Stevo_ on (January 11, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

Nice write up Chris, thanks for the insight to the test arena

Posted by shivashish on (January 11, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

I still remember being infuriated at what happened in the sydney so i wanted india to crush australia but ofcourse it was not possible with hayden in the team.But yes i did felt for the rogers.playing his first test match,spectacled and looking nervous.i really wanted him to make at least a fifty as he was looking good in the second innings in front of his home crowd.but not only it was the last match of rogers as well as the end of australian domination.

Posted by josef_kaye on (January 11, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

That's still one more Test than I'll ever play. Well done Chris Rogers! :-)

Posted by Meety on (January 11, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

Didn't like Rogers much when he got selected, but I think he was worth another try (in fact, more in retrospect, he should of come back in the side for the Perth test v England instead of Hughes who wasn't in form). I am pretty sure we would have more consistancy & value than what we get from Marsh/Warner & Cowan. That being said I think Warner is improving his game & Cowan looks organised. I think Rogers pedigree would suggest he could handle the swing/seaming ball better than most recent openers. After reading this article (top notch), I really feel sorry for him that he didn't get another crack!

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 11, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

man hoggy shouldve played that test. damn

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