The Investec Ashes 2013 July 1, 2013

Rogers to open with Watson

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Chris Rogers has been confirmed as Shane Watson's opening partner for Australia in the first Investec Test against England at Trent Bridge. The Australia coach, Darren Lehmann, said Rogers had been inked in to partner Watson on the eve of the tourists' final Ashes warm-up match against Worcestershire at New Road.

"Watson and Rogers will open the batting for Australia, I'm comfortable with that, they'll play the first Test," Lehmann said. "All the rest are in the frame, but Rogers has obviously been picked for a reason by the previous selection panel and we're really comfortable with that, he's had a great summer here with Middlesex, made two big hundreds and been in good form."

Rogers was understandably delighted to know he is guaranteed to add to his one Test match, against India in Perth in January 2008.

"I'm naturally excited. It's a huge thrill," Rogers said. "Anyone who has been selected doesn't want to be a one-Test wonder. I had probably given up hope at times but I guess with the new selection committee and retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey it gave me a bit of hope that they would pick an older head.

"I can just enjoy it and really see that there is nothing to lose. I didn't expect this opportunity and hopefully I can play well. If that happens hopefully we can win a few games as well."

The decision means Ed Cowan and David Warner have been deposed as Australia's opening combination after a moderately successful union over the previous 18 months. Both must now will vie for the remaining places in Australia's first Test batting line-up, Cowan potentially at No. 3 and Warner further down.

Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird have slim chances of squeezing into the bowling quartet for Trent Bridge, but the resting of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and the spinner Nathan Lyon for the tour match in Worcester is the strongest indication yet that they will be the frontline attack for Australia.

The captain, Michael Clarke, is playing in further pursuit of time in the middle following his early tour back complaint, while Watson is marked down to bowl against Worcestershire after being kept away from allrounder duties against Somerset.

Apart from anointing Rogers, Lehmann said that he was considering a five-man bowling attack for Trent Bridge, which would likely have Brad Haddin and the uncapped James Faulkner batting at Nos. 6 and 7.

Lehmann also indicated that Steve Smith and Ashton Agar, initially called into the Ashes squad as temporary tourists after the Australia A tour, would be staying on for the entire tour, bringing the party's number to 18. Both will play against Worcestershire. "I think they'll be here for most of it," Lehmann said. "We haven't finalised that but they'll be in the squad for the tour and they're a chance to play in the first Test like everyone else."

Australian XI to play Worcestershire: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers, Phillip Hughes, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon (12th man).

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

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  • H_Z_O on July 4, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    @Meety @ScottStevo let me add that as an England fan I hope Starc doesn't play, because I think he and Pattinson, ducking it in and out, could be deadly. Frightening to think you still have young Cummins coming through. Manage them well and they could be dominant. Now you just need some batsmen ;).

    @ScottStevo long-term I think you're right, Hughes will probably bat 3, maybe even in the return series, but right now I think what you need to guard against is the risk of a collapse. There's still not a lot of confidence in that batting unit and staying solid for a few innings will be a massive boost. Right now, and I'm not saying this to be all Front-Foot Lunge, but England will feel they can get at the Aussie batting. Deny them that a few times, and they'll be the ones under pressure.

    Your bowlers would also benefit. If they have confidence in the batsmen, they know they can risk conceding runs in pursuit of wickets. I may be wrong, I just want to see your bowlers be given a chance.

  • ScottStevo on July 4, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    @HZO, personally, I think Hughes is a number 3 bat. He may have a little flash, but that's something he needs to remove from his game no matter where he bats. He's certainly more agressive than Cowan and Khawaja, but I think we like a good stroke maker at 3 rather than a Trott style player. Then we sure up the middle order with solidity from Clarke and Khawaja. For all Watson's bravado during warm up matches, his SR in tests isn't as high as one would expect and Rogers' SR you'd envisage will be closer to 50, so Hughes @ 3 mightn't be all that bad. Khawaja is still inexperienced at test level and I think batting at 5 should give him an opportunity to solidify a regular starting position in the XI, from there we can move him up the order if he proves himself worthy. In fact, he may jump to open with Watson if Rogers doesn't cut it or retires!

  • ScottStevo on July 4, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    @Meety, completely agree!!!! It's pretty easy to look at Starc and see that he's got everything going for him to be a magnificent test bowler and he's still quite young, yet we have so many stating FC avgs and all manner of junk to discredit him. He and Pattinson opening the bowling will be devastating in a few years time. Both tall, strong, fast and move the ball late.They're wicket takers and that's what's needed in test matches. I'm not overly concerned with economy, unless it's 6rpo every test! -and I'd still take that if they were picking up 4 top order bats from 7-10 overs! That's why we have Bird/Siddle/Harris - to keep it tight and force errors through containment. It's a good balance. As you say, if Watto can get through a few overs, then we don't need a 5th specialist bowler. We do, however, require a decent spinner. I like the looks of Agar, but I think it best he's part of the squad this time around as a learning experience whilst he keeps Lyon honest with domestic returns.

  • Meety on July 4, 2013, 2:35 GMT

    @H_Z_O on (July 3, 2013, 12:48 GMT) - I am a massive fan of the potential within Starc, I would not leave Starc out for Faulkner. I thought Oz got things really wrong when we had Starc. MJ & Faulkner in the same side v England in the Champ Trophy - too much southpaw. I have a bit of a question mark over Faulkner's FC stats, as just about any Tassie Shield pacer of the last 4 years have had great averages. That said, I think he has looked good in ODIs, & would really bustle along all day. The only question I have is - the amount of bowling skill to be a Test specialist bowler. With Watto fully fit (?) - we can get 5 to 10 overs a day out of him - Faulkner is excess!

  • H_Z_O on July 3, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    @ScottStevo Hughes at 3 with Watson opening means two of the top three who like to have a flash at the odd wide one. In swinging conditions that's dicey. As for Warner at 6, that certainly looks possible and it's probably a better position for him right now. Number 3 has to be Cowan or Khawaja. Cowan's experience (at Trent Bridge too) or Khawaja's potential? Tough call.

    @Meety Faulkner looks a decent batsman from the little I've seen of him but not at 7 unless, as you say, chasing the series. The average of 40 is a bit misleading; four not outs in 7 innings, 112 runs, 54 of them in an ODI when Australia were 6 down still needing 134 runs at 10 an over. I was impressed by the knock (very mature) but it was hardly the most competitive circumstances (the match was as good as over).

    His bowling looks handy, though; swings it and has a good change of pace, so he might warrant selection on his bowling alone (batting at 8). If so, do you leave Starc out, or take your chances with the rough?

  • Meety on July 3, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    @Moppa on (July 2, 2013, 7:03 GMT) - I know Rogers had a couple of injuries a few years back, so I think that might of been how Hughes snuck back ahead of him in 10/11, NOTHING can explain Quinney, (other than wanting Hughes, but protecting him from Steyn?).

    @SirViv1973/H_Z_O - Faulkner is not really a known quantity (Internationally) in that his experience is largely been in Oz. Some people would say he IS in the top 4 Ozzy bowlers due to FC S/R & average. He is averaging nearly 40 across 2 formats since landing in the Old Dart. He is very competitive, but I would NOT play him in the top 7, unless we are one down with two to go.

  • Shaggy076 on July 3, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    I think those who have followed Australian cricket recently would realise Steve Smith is much an allrounder as David Warner. Having said that I would have him in the side as a #6 batsman - he seems to have worked out his game thoroughly and knows what shots he can and cant play. He has also learned concentration and the value of his wicket. There is a long way to go and he will never reach the bracket of Steve Waugh, but he was a man with a technique that wasn't classical but came to know his own game. He had problems at the start of his career until he realised this. I suggest Steve Smith has followed this form line and should definitely start in the first test.

  • ScottStevo on July 2, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    @HZO, He's certainly in contention. He'll have to make some decent runs in this match though. Being a late call up, you'd have to expect that he's considered last cab off the rank, but you never know. I tend to agree with you, but with Lehman wiping he slate clean for Warner, it's got me thinking he's going to start...but at 6. Seeing that we know the openers, that means 3 and 4/5 (depending where Clarke bats) are the two spots left. I'd personally stick with Hughes at 3. For some reason I've got a good feeling this series could be a good one for Hughes, but think he may bat 5 with Clarke at 4. Which only leaves the number 3 spot. In which case, I'd suggest Smith is out of contention and it's a straight shoot out between Khawaja and Cowan. Tough choice. If it was 5, I'd have Khawaja, and swap with Hughes, but if Hughes is at 5, this time around I'd play Cowan.

  • H_Z_O on July 2, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    @ScottStevo heh, yeah, I thought the same about Smith being a leggie, blonde and chubby. Reminds me of someone but for the life of me I can't think who...

    Repressed memory perhaps ;)

    Not saying he's a definite starter but he's in contention. It's Khawaja, Cowan and Smith for two positions (unless Warner walks straight back into the side without any match practice). I'd pick Khawaja and Smith myself but that's just me.

  • ScottStevo on July 2, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    @HZO, Agreed re Faulkner. Uncertain of Smith though. That same tag pushed his career along earlier, more to the point was the fact he was a spinner (having blonde locks and being a leggie probably didn't hurt either!) Once we'd come to the realisation that his bowling wasn't up to standard, he had to go away and reinvent himself as a specialist batsmen, who could potentially roll the arm over. He hasn't done a bad job of late, though I fear his technique is a little suspect against good pace bowling - which clearly he's obviously working hard on. V good vs spin and possibly the best fielder going - he's a freak. He's a young enough bloke to sort it out and will def be in our XI soon enough. Still think we could use one or two guys who look a little more solid right now though to form a backbone so that players like Smith can thrive around them...

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