England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, Durham, 2nd day

Fitting, fortunate and deserved

Chris Rogers scored a century that was scratchy, ugly and lucky. It was also the equal of any made by an Australian in the past 18 months

Brydon Coverdale at Chester-le-Street

August 10, 2013

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Chris Rogers asks for a review in Michael Clarke's company, England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, 2nd day, Chester-le-Street, August 10, 2013
Chris Rogers survived a DRS review, a dropped catch and the nervous 96s to reach his hundred © Getty Images
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Michael Hussey and Simon Katich were masters of scoring hundreds with barely a memorable stroke. A nudge here, a push there, a crisp drive, an efficient pull. Nothing too extravagant, nothing too risky. GPS-like knowledge of off stump's position. The willingness to leave balls outside it. Repeatedly. The patience to make bowlers come to them. Repeatedly. The hunger to do so day in, day out, year in, year out. Repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly.

Through future planning, Australia no longer have Katich. Through a breakdown of it, they no longer have Hussey. But they do have Chris Rogers, who works in the same understated way. Rusted on to first-class cricket since last century, Rogers has piled up hundreds for Victoria, Western Australia, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex. Sixty, in fact. All the while, he has made them by making bowlers come to him.

It was fitting that Rogers' maiden Test hundred was a trial of technique in seriously testing conditions, against high-class seam and swing bowling. Such situations have been Australia's downfall in recent years, from 88 against Pakistan in Leeds in 2010 to 47 to 98 against England on Boxing Day later that year, to 47 in Cape Town in 2011. This was why Rogers was recalled at 35. To add some guts to Australia's batting order. To provide some resolve.

When Rogers was asked if his 60 first-class centuries helped him as he approached his maiden Test hundred, he was unequivocal. "They don't count for a thing," he said. Perhaps that was true once Rogers reached the nineties. As Graeme Swann attacked the stumps, Rogers became possessed by paranoia. Every ball could make or break a dream he had nurtured through boyhood, maintained through manhood and abandoned in veteranhood.

An empty, echoing MCG, a tranquil county ground in Derby, nothing could prepare Rogers for the pressure of nearing an Ashes ton. But it was precisely such experiences that allowed him to reach the point at which paranoia could kick in. There are those who will say Rogers was lucky to get to his century. Of course he was. What batsman has ever made a hundred in trying conditions and not enjoyed a measure of good fortune? But Rogers allowed himself to still be there to be lucky.

Broad praise for Rogers

  • England bowler Stuart Broad paid tribute to Chris Rogers, Australia's centurion. "It's tough for an Englishman to feel pleased for an Aussie scoring a hundred in an Ashes Test," Broad said. "Especially when you're bowling against him. But there's no doubt he's been a great servant to Australian cricket and English cricket. I played with him at Leicester when he played a game against the Aussies. He's scored 20,000 first-class runs, which is an amazing effort, and he played fantastically well.
  • "You have to give a lot of credit to the way he dug it out. He realised that the wicket's not made for flashy strokeplay. It is a real grinding wicket where you have to accumulate your runs. It's certainly the best wicket we've had to bowl seam on in this Ashes series.
  • "I don't think a batsman's ever fully in on that wicket. But it's conducive to players who really fight for their runs and who aren't overly flashy. Again that fills us with confidence going into that third innings, because we have three players at the top of the order who really dig in and fight and fight for their runs. We know from the past that, in the third innings, when we do bat and have targets to go for, we are very good at that."

His opening partner David Warner was bowled, late on a ball he appeared set to leave, unaware of his off stump's position. Usman Khawaja was also the victim of his own uncertainty, bottom-edging a ball he shaped to play and then tried to leave. Michael Clarke drove recklessly outside off and edged behind, Steven Smith also poked and tickled to Matt Prior. On a seaming pitch, they were balls Rogers would have left.

His approach seemed to rub off on Shane Watson, who started tentatively but worked his way into Test-match touch. When Watson leaves outside off, he does it with the reluctance of a new dieter leaving half a plate of food untouched. Rogers leaves it out of habit; he knows there will always be a better choice, a healthier option. Here, he waited for the balls on his pads, working runs behind square or through midwicket.

And there were enough bad balls that he was able to not get bogged down. He reached his half-century from 87 deliveries, a fine effort in such difficult conditions. This is a man who knows his scoring areas. At the crease, Rogers is still, efficient in his movements. Here, he played the ball late, not reaching, just deflecting, nudging, driving when the fast bowlers overpitched.

Often his leaves looked like plays and misses, for really he was just getting to off stump and dragging the bat inside the line of the ball. Of course, there were plenty of times, particularly in a searching spell from Stuart Broad, he was genuinely beaten outside off. But rarely was he beaten while chasing wide balls he could have left, and when he was he chastised himself greatly, as when he flung the bat at a wide tempter from James Anderson.

Unlike Warner, he covered his off stump scrupulously against the fast bowlers. It was that practice that saved him from one of his closest calls, when he was given out caught behind and asked for a review. The replays showed Rogers had not hit the ball but Broad's delivery might have hit the stumps had it not clipped the batsman's leg on the way through. It was, however, an "umpire's call" on the lbw, which saved Rogers as he had been given out not lbw but caught behind. Protecting his off stump had saved him.

There were moments of genuine good fortune, as when he was dropped at slip on 49, but even then his style of stroke kept the ball low. He was lucky, but he contributed to his own good fortune. By the close of play, Rogers had survived the nervous 96s and was a Test centurion.

The biggest Test hundreds are not always the finest, and his effort was the equal of any by an Australian since late 2011, when Clarke scored a magic 151 on the Cape Town surface on which Australia were later bowled out for 47, and David Warner's bat-carrying effort on a seamer in Hobart the following month.

They were the kind of innings that featured more regularly when Katich and Hussey were around. Australia may no longer have either of those men but they now have Rogers. And having waited so long, he is hungry. They can have him as long as they like.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 11, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

Chris Rogers, take a bow ! His late entry into the Aussie team goes to show how MIGHTY the Australian team was the last decade. Match winners all the way to no. 7 in the batting meant, Mike Hussey and Rogers had to wait long before donning the Baggy Green. But like they always say, "it's never too late"; especially playing for your country at the top level.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 11, 2013, 18:07 GMT)

well done to Chris Rogers.It is amazing what playing in County cricket can do for a technique.though of course it did not work that well for Phil Hughes.Or Bairstow. May be I should scratch my last comment.

Posted by pat_one_back on (August 11, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

@Graham Foster, not just rumours, it's on the public record Katich took Pup by the throat for trying to rush dressing room victory proceedings to make a players & partners dinner. Nonetheless it's fairly irrelevant, Katich was dropped first & foremost for his age, the same thinking/selection strategy determined Haddin would not return following his family break despite v.impressive FC form, the thinking weighed heavily on Ponting who retires into v.impressive FC form, to everyone's shock Hussey then retires in peak international form. Over administered, over coached, Aust over reached and found the fresh green grass looked sweet but tasted bitter sweet and lacks substance..

Posted by umairbond on (August 11, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

KAtich should patched up things with clarke before ashes then they would be 1-2 down. but rogers hundred made his effort was the equal of any by an Australian since late 2011,his the main man and should score like hussey and katich in future.

Posted by CoverDrive88 on (August 11, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

Rogers & Katich has appeal, given our current situation, even if having two slowish left-handers wouldn't be ideal. I do think that our problems started with that stupid decision to drop Katich based on age, personalities (Clarke?), not a team player(?). From around then our selection approach has been farcical. With Hughes, Watson, Warner, you expect entertainment and hope for a decent score (because they all have serious technique problems ignored by selectors on the basis of runs scored quickly on dead 1-day wickets). With Cowan you have a 30yo who is probably about half as good as Katich & Rogers i.e. a poor investment to replace Katich, and you're just waiting for the inevitable. Picking Rogers at least reversed that trend in the short term. Now you feel that a good start and a big score for him are always a possibility.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 3:55 GMT)

Katich was dropped because Michael Clarke didn't want him in the team, not because of his age.

Posted by CoverDrive88 on (August 11, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

Rogers & Katich has appeal, given our current situation, even if having two slowish left-handers wouldn't be ideal. I do think that our problems started with that stupid decision to drop Katich based on age, personalities (Clarke?), not a team player(?). From around then our selection approach has been farcical. With Hughes, Watson, Warner, you expect entertainment and hope for a decent score (because they all have serious technique problems ignored by selectors on the basis of runs scored quickly on dead 1-day wickets). With Cowan you have a 30yo who is probably about half as good as Katich & Rogers i.e. a poor investment to replace Katich, and you're just waiting for the inevitable. Picking Rogers at least reversed that trend in the short term. Now you feel that a good start and a big score for him are always a possibility.

Posted by humdrum on (August 11, 2013, 2:52 GMT)

Talk about grit and sheer cussedness.Here is a batsman who puts a very high price on his wicket.His experience in county cricket has enabled him to cope with the conditions, and his mental strength,with the precarious situation. Two early wickets down for next to nothing, then the captain embarrassing himself and the team,with the English total appearing a mountain,an unfazed and unflappable Rogers hunkered down to produce a knock,which may not send the poets into raptures,but will remain long in memory of all those who had the privelege to see it.Hats off mate.

Posted by pat_one_back on (August 11, 2013, 1:40 GMT)

Rodgers looked every bit of his 20k+ first class runs today, a hardened professional frustrater of fielding teams, how has this bloke played and missed his way to a 100 you can't help but ask yourself in the field, whilst deep down knowing the answers; brute determination near flawless concentration, disciplined stroke play, playing late, soft hands, leaving well, he's ticked all the boxes. He brought the best of these skills out in Watson along the way, like Hussey or Katto, Steve Waugh in the day, Rodgers is a guy you want to bat with when your doing it tough. Today was by far the most difficult day of batting this series, only mild occasional swing but what extravagant movement off the seam, even as the ball aged, not seen on day 1. Eng must now realise they've squandered the best run scoring conditions to be found this test.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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