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July 7, 2013
Chris Rogers' primary task for Australia during the Trent Bridge Test will be to remove the shine from the new ball when it is in the hands of England's bowlers. His secondary task will be to do precisely the opposite when the tourists are in the field.
As a vastly experienced cricketer in English climes, Rogers has been handed the task of looking after the Dukes ball when it is Australia's turn to use it. Typically fielding at mid-on or mid-off during the tour match against Worcestershire, Rogers soon had his creams marked with a rich red stain down his trousers.
Seldom a slips fielder in the tradition of top order batsmen, Rogers has commonly taken up a post alongside the bowler as captain of Middlesex, and will be doing the same at Nottingham. He has learned much about taking care of the ball from the swing bowler Tim Murtagh, among others, and is aware the right kind of polishing job could see a genie pop out at key moments for the visitors.
"The Dukes ball is a different beast to the Kookaburra, so I guess that is one of my roles," Rogers said as he anticipated adding to his only previous Test, against India in 2008. "If you're not in the slippers or in a catching position and you're at mid-off then that's a part of your job. So yeah I'll probably help out with that.
"Naturally some of the guys over here understand it very well and I have learnt a bit off them. If you can keep that ball moving in the air, it's going to be a lot easier for the bowlers. It's a big job."
Australia have long lagged behind England in their ability to get the ball swinging and then maintain its condition, either for conventional bend or reverse movement. The role of the ball-carer is considered so important by England that their captain Alastair Cook has been employed due to his famed inability to sweat.
Questions were raised about the legality of England's treatment of the ball during the Champions Trophy, resulting in a tweak of ICC playing conditions that will allow the umpires to change the ball if they suspect tampering. While the change does not come into effect until October, the duel to extract the most movement out of the ball will be closely monitored by officials.
In addition to his familiarity with the ball to be used in the series, Rogers is also well attuned to the vagaries of Trent Bridge, something Ed Cowan has also grown used to over the course of half a county season for Nottinghamshire.
"Traditionally it does a little bit early, but I've also found it to be quite a good batting wicket once you get in," Rogers said. "And with this [warm] weather, there's a good chance it's going to be pretty flat. We'll just have to see what happens, but I know it's going to be a challenge, not just the conditions but their bowlers as well. I know I'm going to have to be ready for it."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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