The Investec Ashes 2013

Rogers granted his opening

Like Australia coach Darren Lehmann, Chris Rogers has plenty of experience in English conditions. Unlike Lehmann, he will now get to use that knowledge in the Ashes

Daniel Brettig in Worcester

July 1, 2013

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Chris Rogers while batting in the nets, Worcester, July 1, 2013
Chris Rogers will bring plenty of experience of English conditions to the top of the Australia order © Getty Images
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Darren Lehmann has granted Chris Rogers the opportunity he never had. For all his success at Yorkshire, defined as much by his influence on the culture of the club as 8871 Championship runs at 68.76, Lehmann was never able to use his English expertise on an Ashes tour. Only a week into the job as Australia coach and selector, he has ensured that Rogers will.

Thrust at short notice into a position of enormous influence in Australian cricket on the eve of the Investec Ashes series, one of Lehmann's very first decisions was to inform certain key players of the roles he had identified for them against England. Among the players spoken to last week was Rogers, who alongside Shane Watson will form an opening combination that boasts a wealth of local knowledge and the capacity to take the game away from Alastair Cook's team.

While Watson is returning to the top of the order for the simple reason that it is the place he has enjoyed most success, Rogers is ideally placed to be a "batting captain" of sorts. Experience of English conditions has made him an example for all in the squad to follow, particularly when confronted with the new, swinging Dukes ball. Like Lehmann at Leeds, Rogers has excelled as a mentor at Lord's, taking on the Middlesex captaincy. He is now intent on leading the line as a Test batsman.

"The thing I try to do as a captain is lead from the front and that is the role of an opener anyway," Rogers said. "If I can do that for Australia, hopefully I can set the game up for the middle-order to play expansively and take the game away from the opposition. For that to happen we need a solid start.

"The Dukes ball is different. I think you need to get a real feel for it, particularly as an opening batsman. The ball is going to do some crazy things at times. With my experience, I can be fairly comfortable with my knowledge of that. It's still going to be a huge challenge because I think the English bowlers are exceptional. If I do well then I can be very satisfied."

Rogers said he had entered the Australia squad with similar intentions to those subsequently shown by Lehmann - providing calm, knowledge and a sense of humour at the right times. This was typified by his wry observation that even though he has only played one Test, a chaotic affair against India in Perth five years ago, Rogers has now been addressed by three Australia coaches.

"It's been interesting but I guess it's been offset by the fact that Lehmann is such a calm character, who has really set us at ease and that's helped," Rogers said. "Maybe I was a bit curious about what was going to happen, but after this last week I think everyone is quietly confident.

"I think the character I am, too, I can pass on these kinds of things. This first Test is still going to be a bit of an unknown for me and I have to deal with those things. But I do see my role as passing on some information to the young guys. I enjoy that."

State and county team-mates of Rogers know his value, opening the batting and providing a reliable link in the dressing room chain of command. James Pattinson said his fellow Victoria Bushranger was among the hardest men to dislodge from the batting crease, even if merely having a net.

"It's the tough edge that he brings to the team. He's a very hard man to dismiss in the nets," Pattinson said. "He puts great value on his wicket then will capitalise once he gets in. You know he'll go out there and score runs. He's got a great wealth of knowledge in cricket circles, he knows the conditions well and, playing with him for Victoria, around the dressing room he's fantastic. He brings that relaxed sort of approach.

"The big thing about him is that he knows his game so well and he's very good at coaching others so he'll bring that to a lot of other batsmen as well. I've noticed over the years he's spent a lot of time with the younger guys from Victoria. He'll give some great insights into batting and how to about the conditions over here."

The one question to be raised of Rogers is how his batting will stand up to the mess and noise of an Ashes series, having played so many matches in front of sparse audiences. He has prepared as best as possible.

"I was fortunate enough that the selection happened a couple of months ago," he said. "Every time I have gone out to bat I have been putting myself under as much pressure as I can, trying to lift the intensity because I remember what it was like in that first Test and it's far different to what you experience in domestic cricket."

Though the Ashes tour always did remain elusive, Lehmann's autobiography was called Worth The Wait. Should Rogers succeed, he might just start thinking about pinching that title for his own.

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

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Posted by ScottStevo on (July 4, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

....My point being on that thread, if our results of recent times had been so poor, how is it we were even in a position to go into the #1 spot if we'd won that series against SA?

Posted by ScottStevo on (July 3, 2013, 21:22 GMT)

@Greatest_Game, so almost winning 2 test matches out of 3 is nowhere? Are you saying that Aus weren't in strong positions to win both the first 2 test matches? I wouldn't say choked as SA pulled off some miraculous feats and I wouldn't be dismissive enough not give them ample credit for their work and to conclude that's why they're #1 and we're not. Your point being that we were so far away as we needed to win 2 tests, well we were all over SA in the first 2 tests. The first where SA were effectively 50-5 in their second innings and a day of rain most likely saved their blushes. In the second they pulled off the near impossible, not to win mind you , just to survive - which was by far the less likely outcome. Almost as miraculously, you seem to disagree with this? So again I ask, what series were you watching? Why don't you provide your analysis of the series. At any rate, my original point you referred to I was stating that our results aren't lean compared with others besmirched...

Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 2, 2013, 21:16 GMT)

@ ScottStevo wrote "not sure which test series you were watching, but I watched the series were in the first 2 test matches played, Australia could've (probably should've) won the first and definitely should've won the second."

Could have, should have, most likely, might have, every chance - those don't win test matches or a test series. You wrote that Aus "almost" got to #1. They were, however, 2 test wins short at the end of the series. That is not "almost," that is nowhere! You can say "could have, should have" about the India tour, World Cup, World T20, Champions Trophy, the last Ashes ... but the fact is that Aus did not win them. Not even "almost."

SA "might have" won the World Cup by now. They have not. They could have, & certainly should have, but they did not, and earned the title of "chokers" instead. That is what happens when a team "should have," but did not win. Are you saying that Aus choked? That is what it sounds like! Are Aus now the Test Chokers?

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

Rogers's selection is a good decision for a number of reasons. Experience in English conditions over a number of years, the maturity of age and leadership, he's waited ages for this - he'll make it count, and he has been getting decent scores recently under pressure (Champions Trophy). However, we should not compare he and Watson to Hayden/Langer. That era of Australian cricket has gone, it may never be repeated. To expect current players to replicate those performances is unrealistic and damaging. The best we can hope for is some Marsh/Boon fight, plain old hard work - and lots of it - just to get an average score.

Posted by Mitty2 on (July 2, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

I pleaded and pleaded for Rogers to be selected when the squad announcement was coming up and boy was I relieved when he was selected. That squad announcement was one of the only good things that had happened in that post-Indian series to now purely for his inclusion and maxwell's exclusion. I brought up a million reasons - primary ones obviously being experience and performance (argus) In a side devoid of both - for his selection and I don't need to repeat them now. I'll just be content that we have a much more solid batting line up with Rogers virtually replacing Warner... Yay!

But of course, that brings up the issue of number 3. For stability - which is what we need more than anything - we simply have to have Rogers and Cowan in the top 3. Cowan at 3, Hughes and khawaja at 4 and 6 (not fussed who goes where). C'mon boys, let's go for a massive upset! I need repayment for watching the majority of the Indian series!

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

About time, too. How does a guy with FC of 50 get over looked all these years?

Posted by ScottStevo on (July 2, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

@GreatestGame, not sure which test series you were watching, but I watched the series were in the first 2 test matches played, Australia could've (probably should've) won the first and definitely should've won the second. So 2 out of 3 tests we most likely shoud've done better in and completed victories, against the one poor test we played to lose the whole series as we didn't finish off the job in the first 2. Yes, I think you'll find we had every chance to win that series and go #1. Also, Ponting did voluntarily retire, only after our media had been hounding him for around 3-4 years. @Others, we will see. FC runs aren't the same as test match runs. I really hope he does well, for numerous reasons, but personally, I think we should've looked at bringing in middle order players that we can get use out of for more than a series; and that those guys don't end up in the same predicament as Rogers in 5 years time whereby we're selecting them @ 35 asking why they weren't selected beforehand

Posted by ravi_hari on (July 2, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

With a batting average of over 50 in first class cricket, he is a luxury to have in a team which has many new comers. He could be another Hussey if he succeeds and can play for atleast 2 to 3 years, before Aussies find the right 'opener'. Rogers' English experience will definitely help him guide the yound batting side and if he can score as well, it will be double yammy. Any cricket match is about good starts. If Watson and Rogers open for Australia, we could see a repeat of Hayden-Langer era. However, for that to happen, both have to play beyond their abilities and have to take their roles very seriously. Watson in particular can impact the whole series, if he can score a quickfire 100 in the first test. That will surely unsettle the Englishmen who will have to change tactics to counter the onslaught. The best thing for Aussies with Lehmann is that they will get back the aggressive attitude on the field as they will be free from dressing room fears. All are eagerly awaiting the Ashes.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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