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July 30, 2013
Shane Watson might not quite be in "Gooch lbw Alderman" territory just yet, but he has been trapped in front three times in this series and his initial lunge forward has left him with a higher percentage of lbw dismissals than any other batsman who has played more than 70 Test innings. His opening partner Chris Rogers has a slightly unusual take on the situation.
"At least it's one thing that he can work on," Rogers said. "I'm sure he has been working on that. If he can kind of prevent that from happening then it's going to make it hard for the English bowlers ... He wouldn't be normal if he didn't realise that it's the way they're targeting him."
Whether or not Watson's pad has a silver lining, it was at least one very specific area he could work on in London and Manchester over the past week, while most of the team was playing against Sussex. Rogers was with Watson, but with no such straightforward blueprint. How can working in the nets help a batsman avoid being lbw to a thigh-high full toss, or being bowled leaving an offbreak that just didn't turn?
"I think I've been doing some pretty good things and then just getting out," Rogers said. "And that's been the disappointing thing. I know I've got to be better and whether that's concentration or whatever. I've been thinking about it a lot, naturally, and hopefully I can be better for the next few matches."
In his return to the baggy green after playing a solitary Test against India in 2008, Rogers has made 16, 52, 15 and 6, and he needs a big innings to avoid being remembered as the man who was lbw to a Graeme Swann rank full toss. Rogers would have had that decision overturned in the first innings at Lord's had he asked for a review, but having failed to have an lbw reversed at Trent Bridge and seen Watson use up one review already, he was reluctant to use the DRS.
"It kind of went up and over the sight screen and I just lost it," Rogers said. "Kind of got surprised, thought it was a free hit, and unfortunately it hit me rather embarrassingly but I guess I just lost it and I don't really know what else to say there. It was hard to know where the ball was going because there was no normal reference points and in hindsight it would have been nice to challenge the lbw.
"My lbw in the first Test, where it's just clipping and I thought that was going down, it puts a little bit of doubt in your mind about what's going on. It only has to clip so when it all happened ... the other thing is it happened so quickly, emotion takes over a little bit and there were no real reference points so it was hard to know what to do, and particularly [because] it would have been the second review."
Rogers has watched the DRS develop from afar but this is the first series he has played with the system in place, and he said it was difficult to decide on the spur of the moment how to use the reviews. He said batsmen needed to be even more conscious than usual of getting bat on ball, because the technology appeared to have encouraged umpires to give more lbw calls.
"I think that DRS has changed a lot of people's understanding of what's going on," he said. "As a cricketer I've made a pretty poor umpire so far. This is the first time I've been involved with it. It's a bit of a learning process, and you have to learn quickly.
"Naturally, if you're an umpire seeing more balls hit the stumps, then it's probably swaying your opinion but I don't know, that's their job. It's the same for both sides and as a team we've got to try and use this review system better than we have. You've got to try and get hit on the pads less. I guess the other thing is playing spin, and getting hit on the front pad, has made it a bit different. You've got to use your bat more, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing."
Having spent their time in the nets to freshen up and get away from the spotlight, Rogers and Watson will resume their opening partnership at Old Trafford later this week. Surprisingly, Rogers is yet to play a first-class match at Old Trafford despite having played 119 first-class games in the UK; fate would have it that whenever he has signed for a county team, Lancashire have typically been in the other division.
But Rogers knows that his vast experience of domestic cricket in England has given him a sound base for Test matches, even if he is yet to transfer that form to the international arena. He said it was difficult to avoid putting extra pressure on himself given the attention that is placed on Test cricketers compared to state or county players.
"This side that we're playing against, the bowlers are very good," he said. "Then just the extra pressure that you almost put yourself under. I guess in some respects I've been trying too hard, just trying to work really hard and bogging myself down a bit.
"The pressures that go on with playing international cricket - everyone looking on, the big crowds, those things - that's what you have to deal with to be a good international player. I knew that before but it's still something you have to confront."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough