Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2013

Rogers and Watson bury hapless England


Australia 204 (Haddin 65, Rogers 61, Anderson 4-67) and 2 for 231 (Rogers 116, Watson 83*) beat England 255 (Pietersen 71, Johnson 5-63) and 179 (Cook 51, Lyon 5-50, Johnson 3-25) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jarrod Kimber's Ashes report: England's matrix is destroyed

This time last year, the thought of Australia's cricketers reaching Sydney with a 4-0 Ashes margin in their pockets seemed about as likely as that of the long discarded Chris Rogers making a century in the Boxing Day Test. So there was rare joy experienced by Australia, Rogers and another bounteous MCG crowd as both events came to pass, with the considerable assistance of a staggeringly listless England.

A successful chase offered vindication to Michael Clarke, who sent England in to bat in the knowledge that the drop-in pitch would improve across the match. A first Test century in Australia provided rich satisfaction for Rogers, plus the assurance that he will be on the plane for next year's South Africa tour. But another day of humiliation left England in a state of total despair, having coughed up their fourth defeat from a day three position that had looked close to impregnable.

The wretchedness of England's display was total, from dropped catches and misfields to Alastair Cook's increasingly leaden tactics. The touring bowlers, so often betrayed by their batsmen in this series, lost progressively more vigour as the target neared, allowing Rogers and a free-swinging Shane Watson to take far too many liberties. Few touring teams to Australia can possibly have put in two worse days of a Test than these.

Australia still required 201 when the day began, but Cook's men effectively surrendered the match with a pair of missed chances early in the morning session. By the time Ben Stokes struck to remove David Warner, English shoulders had slumped in anticipation of defeat, and they would slouch ever further as Rogers and Watson rolled up the target with plenty of flair in the best batting conditions of the match.

Rogers perished with 30 still to get, but even that dismissal had a silver lining. Clarke was able to walk to the wicket and collect his 8000th Test run, earning warm applause before ending the match in the company of Watson. The unbeaten and sometime estranged pair embraced warmly at the moment of victory, another scenario few would have been game to predict a year ago.

Resuming at 0 for 30, Warner and Rogers began ticking down the required runs, but would offer England a pair of chances to gain a foothold. Befitting of their play the day before, the tourists spurned them with all the disdain of a team that has lost all confidence or sense of how to grasp a match.

On 19, Rogers edged a fine delivery from Stuart Broad moving across him, and watched helplessly as the edge flew towards the slips cordon. Though it was well within reach of Jonny Bairstow, England's gloveman did not move, and Broad cursed his misfortune as the ball scuttled away to the boundary. Rogers only enhanced his feeling of injustice by upper cutting the next ball for four over the cordon.

Stokes replaced Broad after only two overs, and duly created his own chance when Warner drove at a delivery not quite there for the stroke. This time the ball travelled straight to Cook at an ideal height. When that chance went down, no-one quite knew where to look. A few overs later Warner did fall, a square slash attempt settling into Bairstow's gloves, but the muted nature of England's celebration indicated a team aware their moment may have passed.

Rogers meanwhile carried on in a manner so infuriating to bowlers, one inside edge past the stumps further cruel and unusual punishment for Stokes. There were other more fluent shots from there, however, as Rogers moved to his second half century of a low-scoring match. Watson joined in with a few sweet blows, and their partnership was soon motoring along.

As if transfixed by his own error, Cook seemed even slower to react than usual, and furrowed many brows at the ground by opting for Joe Root before Monty Panesar. Rogers was not perturbed by either, but shortly after lunch did offer another half chance - Bairstow diving over a low edge that bounced fractionally after passing under his glove.

The rest was a procession. Accompanied by Barmy Army songs that sounded evermore like gallows humour this series, Rogers and Watson unfurled numerous smart strokes, not least the punch through the off side that took Rogers to his hundred. He celebrated with a raised bat, a beaming smile and perhaps the shot of the match, cuffing Tim Bresnan through point in the next over to split Cook's attempt at a restrictive field.

Panesar eventually defeated Rogers, procuring a thin edge to Bairstow from an attempted back foot forcing stroke. But it was the merest bump on Australia's passage to victory, which Watson secured with a mow through the leg side and a fist raised in triumph. It was a win for Australia to savour, a defeat to mortify England.

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

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  • ESPN on January 1, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    @pcraju of course Mitchell is trying to sledge the poms! It is cricket isn't it??! And tell you what it is working a treat.

  • Scott on December 31, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    @Chris_P, I agree, I too had high hopes for MoHen, as I believe we've previously discussed, but he needs to do more if he's going to push his way in. He had a chance in India and started well, but ended too poorly. And definitely agree with your stance on guys like Maddinson and the other name that gets thrown around a lot here Silk. These guys need to prove that they can score big runs, not for a few of their first matches, but consistently. At the moment we've opted for guys with more experience in their own game. I understand that. We tried Hughes, Khawaja and had Warner and SMith in the side and we were desperately lacking experience, but more to the point maturity. Not only as cricketers but as individuals. Thats why I was all for Bailey in the test side, and even more so I was desperate to see Ferguson given a go. Two guys with experience in shield, know their games, know themselves, proven international performers (albeit ODI). Bailey won over with his unreal ODI year...

  • Peter on December 30, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    @ScottStevo. Mate, he toured England, Scotland & Ireland with the Australian A side during the English season & had these stats on tour, not sure why they don't show but they were FC fixtures.. He isn't the complete package as yet, but the trend is going upwards after many seasons of continued failure to live up to his potential. He is probably the most frustrating cricketer (for me) as he looks the goods & used to toss away his wicket. His first test was solid as oyu pointed out & there is no such thing as beginner's luck in tests, especially in India. He was run out without scoring by a really poor call by Wade & he has plenty of years to deliver. I am all for picking form players & although I watch NSW most games, he does stand out, having said that Maddinson needs at least a full season if not more of scoring runs before picking him, don't really believe in rushing either. Cheers.

  • Scott on December 30, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    @Chris_P, where are you getting those stats for those county records you've pulled? I can't see that he's played at all in '13! Well, I'm judging his batting this season by comparing him with another who toured India and wasn't played - Ferguson. One is averaging 72, so the other doesn't have an excuse of being 'mucked around by the selectors'. Also, with scores of 0, 0, 5 and 2, he had a horror show - as did the rest of the side. He made a 68 and a 81* on debut - looks more like 'beginners luck' with that poor run afterwards. Watson didn't play well in that series, but on this evidence, there's no point claiming he did a better job using those scores, mate. Twice as well, pffft! Also, Watson didn't bowl in India, but MoHen averaged 78 with 2 wickets in 53 overs. Hardly inspiring stuff. Personally, I don't think he's up for test cricket - not even close. And Watson is a far superior player with bat and ball IMHO.

  • Harold on December 30, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    "Rogers and Watson bury hapless England"

    Thus it is. Their level of hap is low enough as to be properly considered absent at this point.

  • Harold on December 30, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    I've been mulling over this for a long time.

    To reduce the luck factor & eliminate post-match whingeing by the losers, here's a solution.

    The team winning the coin toss in match #1 of a series may:

    a) elect to bat or bowl, with the other team automatically getting the choice next match, & so on, the choice alternating until the end of the series; or

    b) elect to postpone the choice until the second match, allowing the other team to choose first, with choices alternating thereafter (this option being a strategic one if the first match pitch offers no clearcut benefit to bat or ball).

    At least think about it.

  • Harold on December 30, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    @dalboy12 "Every team that goes to Aussie struggles, you have the fast bowlers. the fast pitches, the sledging, the media, the heat and the crowd all attacking you."

    And the flies. Plus MJ's moustache might also have been a factor this series.

  • Harold on December 30, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    @samincolumbia "@Ozzz.z - Not as comical as your attempt in trying to string together a coherent sentence in english...'there' instead of 'their'. "

    You beauty, mate! It always scores huge points for your side of the debate when you can correct someone's spelling.

  • Peter on December 30, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    @ScottStevo. re: Mohen, I said forget him this season due to him being stuffed about by the selectors, although he did score an impressive century last start against Sth Aus.. Try looking at his fc season in England this season averaging 63 with the bat & 8 with the ball, last season in Australia 65 with the bat & 20 with the ball. You are a big fan of Watson, he did twice as well as Watson in India. Now if current form doesn't count, what does? You quoted 2012 season, that's 4 seasons ago, he has done it all since then. Yes he is a serious talent in my books. I have seen him live for 5 or 6 seasons, this guy has it all. Hopefully he can repeat again next season.

  • Rajkumar on December 30, 2013, 10:17 GMT down and i must say I understand your frustration and irritation.Narayanaswamy doesnt really represent all Indian cricket fans.I for one have been watching Ashes keenly from 2005.Now a HUGE majority Indians are interested only in T20(sadly) and i am sure Aus also has its share of 'test matches are boring' party.because we are so large in number when i say HUGE number of Indians number of comments would obviously be all over the internet and seen as general view of Indian fans(again sad but true.)Its almost incoceivalbe for many from here that this much interest could be generated forget sustained for a 5 MATCH TEST SERIES.i am not offering an excuse but merely stating a fact..I for one had missed Australianism in action for some time and hopefully you are right back...happy new year..!!

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