The Ashes 2013 April 24, 2013

Worth the wait for Chris Rogers

The opener was on verge of Victoria axe in 2012 but a phonecall from John Inverarity gave him hope and now he is on an Ashes tour

About a year ago, Chris Rogers sat on the Lord's balcony and pondered his future in Australia. More to the point, he pondered whether there was one. Told he was unlikely to gain a Victoria contract at the age of 34, Rogers began considering options in other states and even overseas: South Africa or New Zealand loomed as possible destinations to prolong his undersung first-class career.

Rogers had long given up serious thoughts of an Australia recall. His one Test, against India in January 2008, receded half a decade into the distance. Though prolific as ever for Middlesex, he was now contemplating the end of his days walking out to bat in his home country. As Rogers put it, "There's been such a strong push for youth for a period of time that I felt like I was being pushed out the back door a little bit."

But then a strange thing happened. He received word that the national selector John Inverarity, in England for Australia's ODI tour, wanted to talk to him. A phonecall and a meeting followed. Cricket in England was discussed, and Australia. Thoughts were shared on various players, numerous trends.

It was the first time Rogers had heard from a member of the national selection panel since the brief call five years ago telling him he would debut in Perth as an injury replacement. The conversation with Inverarity wasn't a call-up, or even the promise of one. But it was contact. For the first time in years, Rogers dared to hope again. Victoria soon came calling with a contract offer; pastures new could wait.

"The chat with John was one of the moments I think that made me pause," Rogers told ESPNcricinfo. "Particularly at that time, because I got told around then I was unlikely to get a contract for the Vics, so that made me stop and think that I still had something to offer.

"Then when my name wasn't really bandied about this year I started to wonder again, but when Invers named the Australian contracted squad but then mentioned my name, that was a moment I thought 'I am quite a chance here, I don't see why he'd mention me otherwise'. From then until now I've been pretty hopeful. I was starting to chew the nails a little bit but the phone call came through so it was very nice."

Rogers' hope, and another summer of unobtrusive, consistent run-making for the Bushrangers, has now reaped the sort of genuine opportunity he has sought ever since his Sheffield Shield debut: an Ashes tour. To win a place, all Rogers needs to do is continue following the sound fundamentals that have pushed him to 19,107 first-class runs at 50.01.

"I've been here for the last two Ashes series and it's taken the country by storm. To be a part of it is something I'll cherish forever"
Chris Rogers

Save for Michael Clarke, no-one in the squad knows more about building a score, and even the captain would defer to Rogers' English experience, which amounts to more runs at a better average than England's vaunted leader and opening batsman Alastair Cook. This is not to say Rogers is coveting an opening spot. Having waited this long, he will bat anywhere.

"I got hinted that a part of the experience I bring is my knowledge of the conditions over here and players and those kinds of things," Rogers said. "It might help along the way, so it would be nice to be a part of that, have a bit of a voice and hopefully I can offer everyone something at different times. I'm sure quite a few of the guys have played a bit over here, but I've been lucky enough to play more than the rest. I don't think people understand that conditions in England are quite foreign to Australia.

"I'm not going to be turning down opportunities at this stage of my career, and the chance to play for Australia, I'd do anything. I'd like to be up the top, I think it fits me better, but I'd naturally bat anywhere and do a role the team asks me to do. I just have to wait and see how that all pans out."

An oddity of Rogers' selection is that despite being the oldest member of the squad, he has played the least international cricket - even James Faulkner, uncapped in Tests, has a collection of limited-overs appearances. "It's an interesting one," Rogers said. "In one respect I am bringing a lot of experience to the side but in another I haven't been on that stage, apart from one game, so it might take me a little bit of time to get used to the hype and the support and all those things that go with it."

It is no surprise, then, that something which enthuses Rogers about the Ashes is the chance to spend more than one crowded week around the Australian team. He has never toured before, never been 12th man, never witnessed the ebbs and flows of a full series. His one previous appearance was the convoluted match that followed the acrimonious, "Monkeygate" Sydney Test. Amid all the behind-the-scenes discussions that were had about Andrew Symonds, Harbhajan Singh and the team's triumphalist aggression at the SCG, Rogers could not recall even having a team meeting. This will be different.

"I look back at it and it was just a bit of a whirlwind week," Rogers said. "I don't remember a lot about it, and it almost happened in the blink of an eye and then that was it. I've never been on an Australia tour or been around the squad for a period of time, so that's going to be nice, just to be a part of that and just take the opportunity to enjoy it rather than just be blown away by it all really."

Most of all though, there will be a sense of fulfilment. Rogers' every net session, every Shield or county match, every wandering commute from ground to ground, now feels more purposeful in retrospect. It has all been worth it.

"I guess as you get older, you know the end's near and you don't take anything for granted. As an Australian and the person I am, I tend to fight for everything I can get. Over this last period it's been a case where anything that comes my way, I try and take it.

"I look back and think there were moments when I got quite dispirited and had given up all hope, but it's such a relief to be a part of a squad that's going to be touring England. Just the determination to keep going and play well and enjoy my cricket has been rewarded. I've been here for the last two Ashes series and it's taken the country by storm … to be a part of it is something I'll cherish forever."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on April 29, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Lots of rubbish about the ICC rankings: it ranks players over a 2-3 year window which get reset every August back to 2 years - aka the big change we see every year in the rankings...

    So any player that hasn't played many matches in the current 32 month window will have reduced rankings - whether through prolonged injury or because of their recent promotion to international level...

    The rankings at best are a rough guide with little reflection on current form - for me the best guide is how the team & players have performed in the last 18 mths & which players were absent through injury from said matches... That's about as close as you can get...

  • David on April 28, 2013, 2:12 GMT

    @ Landl47. I read your post and took a look at the relevant figures, and to my surprise Cook's test average, 49.04, is HIGHER than his 1st Class ave, 48.13! 50% of his FC games have been tests, and they have pulled his FC average up. I looked at the test & FC averages of 11 top batsmen: Cook, Pietersen, , Sangakkara, Clarke, Jayawardene, M. Hussey, Amla, G. Smith, Kallis, Tendulkar, Ponting. (The last 2 I took their averages from 2010 as their has been subsequent decline.) Smith's Test average is .94 lower than his FC. Pietersen's test ave is .41 lower. All the rest have a higher test ave, ranging from Jayawardene's 0.02 to Sangakkara's 7.72! Yup, kumar has played 117 tests, 88 other FC games, & his test ave is 7.72 higher.

    From my quick survey of top batsmen, tests seem only to improve their FC average! If the same holds true for Rogers, Aus might have 2 batsmen with 50+ averages! Even if Rogers' ave drops by 10 for tests, he'll still be doing better that the current openers!

  • Rajaram on April 27, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Looks like Shane Watson's confusions are over. He is batting well at the IPL, but whether that transforms to centuries in the Ashes Tests is a question mark.We all know that a T20 player is not a good grafter. A T20 player is a 10 / 20 over batsman.Just a shade better than an ODI batsman. Oh for a dependable Ricky Ponting or Mike Hussey or Justin Langer or Mark Wark Waugh or a Michael Clarke! The Selectors SHOULD NOT SELECT Phil Hughes (the Englishmen's and Kiwi's bunny) or David Warner.Boith are undependable,flashy. I ALWAYS have my heart in my mouth when I watch these two playing Test cricket. A big hit or bust. NEVER CONSISTENT. David Warner has demonstrated how irresponsible he is - against South Africa at the WACA, and against India in one of the Tests. At a time, when we needed him to buckle down.That is why the Engine Room should be a dependable one - the top three who can make a HUGE Score. Earlier we had Mathew Hayden,Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting.Now Cowan,Rogers,Khawaja.

  • John on April 27, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Rogers deserves his chance and I hope he does well, but overhyping him doesn't do him any favors. 'Rogers' English experience, which amounts to more runs at a better average than England's vaunted leader and opening batsman Alastair Cook'- yeah, right, except that Rogers has made all his runs against county attacks while Cook started playing tests at age 21, has never missed a test in 7 years and has played almost half his career 182 first-class games (and made more than half his first-class runs) in test cricket. India's Rahane has a first-class average of 60.75, but would anybody seriously compare him to Tendulkar, whose FC average is 'only' 57.86?

    Give the guy a chance. If he plays well, then good for him, but he's so far had one test in his career and was unsuccessful in that. He's in the squad because Aus has hit a dry patch, not because he's a better batsman than Alastair Cook.

  • Dummy4 on April 27, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Another left hander!!. Has been tried and failed. Ridiculous selection. Get some right handed batsmen in the team!!

  • Rajaram on April 26, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    This is a superb selection.The right balance. My line up in batting order woud be: Rogers,Cowan,Khawaja, (or Khawaja,Cowan,Rogers),Watson,Clarke,Haddin,Wade as batsman,Siddle,Harris,Pattinson or Bird,Lyon.Warner and Hughes are flashy players, are irresponsible,flashy,and don't know what it is to give the Team a solid foundation.

  • David on April 26, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    @ Meety. You are dead right! Warner "certainly didn't look to shabby when he sent Steyn & Kallis hobbling off into the pavillion @ Adelaide Oval last year!"

    But yes yes yes - he looked really shabby in Brisbane, c Kallis b Steyn for 4 off 15. In Perth, inns 1, Steyn again dismissed shabby Warner for just 13. Warner's 2nd inngs 29 was quick & shabby. And yes yes yes - Aus lost!

    Adelaide - 1 good innings in a shabby Warner series. Clarke, Amla, Kallis, Hussey, de Villiers, Smith & COWAN all scored more, at better averages.

    WARNER: 51.2 balls/inngs. 100s - 1. 50s - 0. Under 30 - 3 (60%) Out in 15 balls - 1 (20%). Caught EVERY TIME.

    COWAN: 97.2 balls/inngs. 100s - 1. 50s - 1. Under 30 - 3 (60%) Out in 15 balls - 1 (20%). Run out, bowled, 3 caught.

    Yes yes yes. Cowan scored more, faced double the deliveries & defended the middle order. Boring perhaps, but true. Now & "back then," Warner is no opener!

    Yes yes yes - you can fool yourself. No no no - you can't fool the numbers.

  • David on April 26, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    @ Mitty2. You wrote "We need a settled opening partnership if anything - and these two are statistically the worlds best." Which 2 are you referring to?

  • Andrew on April 26, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    @Greatest_Game on (April 25, 2013, 19:08 GMT) - yes, yes, you have banged on about this for ages now, it is as boring now as it was back then. He certainly didn't look to shabby when he sent Steyn & Kallis hobbling off into the pavillion @ Adelaide Oval last year!

  • David on April 25, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    A lifelong fan, I closely follow test cricket. I don't understand Warner's automatic selection as opener. He is talented but unreliable. An opener takes the shine off, blunts/sees off the attack, ticks over the scorecard & PROTECTS THE MIDDLE. An attacking opener can dominate, but a Dravid/Ponting/Amla must be waiting, & Oz's rotating #3 is it's soft underbelly.

    Cowan & Warner's "Opener's Stats" are illuminating!

    WARNER. Inngs 34. BALLS FACED 1808 - ave 53 per. Scores: Centuries 3. Fifties 7. UNDER 30 - 21 (62%) Dismissed within 15 balls faced - 10 (30%) Dismissals: 2 not-out, 4 bowled, 4 lbw, 24 CAUGHT!

    COWAN.: Inngs 30. BALLS FACED 2381 - ave 79 per. Scores: Centuries 1. Fifties 6. UNDER 30 - 16 (53%) Dismissed within 15 balls faced - 4 (13%) Dismissals: 1 stumped, 2 run-out, 4 bowled, 11 lbw, 12 caught.

    Warner is unreliable; Cowan does a decent job, & Hughes' figs are similar; Watson outperforms them when opening. Next to Rogers, they seem minnows. Its a tough choice!

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