England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, Durham, 2nd day August 10, 2013

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
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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.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • on August 11, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    @coldcoffee123. I'd love to see Katich opening for Oz as well. Sadly, he and Michael Clarke do not get along at all. There were rumors of a fracas between the two in the past.

  • on August 11, 2013, 1:32 GMT

    Warner and Rogers complement each other well, Warner is more attacking, Rogers is a run accumulator although I think Rogers would only have 3 years left in him until he retires.

  • Shaggy076 on August 11, 2013, 0:39 GMT

    coldcoffee123; It really isnt that hard to work out. 1) Katich was never dropped he was injured in the last Ashes and after 6-9 months out of the game he didnt get back in 2) The reason he didnt get back in is because at the time they had Ponting and Hussey playing both the same age as Katich. The selectors looked ahead and saw all 3 batsman would be 38/39 coming into this test series and that they could have the possibility of all 3 batmsan retiring before the Ashes leaving a massive hole. As Ponting was the captain and Hussey just about the best batsman in the world and Katich returning from a long injury lay off it was easy to say that Australia would blood a younger batsman instead of Katich 3) Once Ponting and Hussey retired they couldnt recall Katich as he had retired from Australian first class cricket 18 months before. Now everyone calling for Katich return and stating he was dropped by Clarke research your facts. Please no more incorrect posts on Katich status.

  • on August 11, 2013, 0:28 GMT

    Yup, Katich should never have been dropped. He was dropped with the idea of settling the opening combo for this very series, and then they dropped the opening batsmen for the first test!

    Perhaps we would have won this series if he'd never been dropped. But either way, Rogers has been outstanding, I've rarely seen so much happiness for a guy scoring his first century. What a class act, and what a great story.

  • Chris_P on August 10, 2013, 23:17 GMT

    This was one for the real cricket fans. Great stuff, Buck! Budding batsman back home, take note!

  • ameenv1980 on August 10, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    katich as a test opener and hussey pls ca give them their positions back in tests

  • Tyrion-and-Tywin on August 10, 2013, 22:55 GMT

    everyone knows that Katich should be in the side if only merit was a criterion. I mean, in English conditions (or anywhere for that matter) he is far more accomplished than any aussie batter bar Clarke. And Clarke is the reason why he is not in the side. Watson is the only allrounder in the team, so he is essential for the team balance, otherwise Clarke would have booted him out too. With all due respect to Clarke's batsmanship and captaincy, there is something to dislike about him as well. He seems to be a man person who holds a grudge.

  • Iddo555 on August 10, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    It was great 100, very hard fought for and the fact that it was his first is fantastic. He seems like a top bloke and I'm always happy when good things happen to good people. Congratulations Chris 'Buck' Rogers

  • righthandbat on August 10, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    The only Australian older than Chris Rogers to hit a century was Arthur Richardson, who also wore glasses.

    Katich could be a good option for the return series, with Clarke finally taking up the number 3 spot. I still prefer Watson at number 7 though, with Haddin at 6. Australia can then tinker with their bats at 4 and 5 until someone fits the role. Also Butterworth deserves a go in Australia.

  • whoster on August 10, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    Even though I'm English, I'm delighted for Chris Rogers. Yes, it was an ugly, scratchy innings that owed a fair bit to luck - but this was a gutsy knock from a real professional. I saw his post-match interview with Ian Ward, and what a humble and unassuming bloke he is. His brief Test career could've been over after Lord's, but after his free-scoring 80-odd at Old Trafford, and now this, he's played a massive part in ressurecting the Aussie challenge in this series. Hats off.

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 10, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    Thank you Chris Rogers for giving all us old buggers some hope! Had a spring in my step after watching you make it into triple figures :)

  • Mervo on August 10, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    I agree, bring back Katich and also add Adam Voges to the squad. Technique is all. We almost have to abandon a half generation of 'young guns' who have been seduced by the slog fest of T20 and never developed a technique like Rogers. You dont rack up 60 first class centuries by being a slogger. Time to concentrate on keeping the older players and working with the 17-19 year olds and let the Smiths, Hughes, and so on spend their days in the lesser forms of the game. They will never have the technique for Test cricket.

  • mixters on August 10, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    @coldcoffee123 Never any logic where CA is concerned. Hussey quit when he saw they way the media hunted him out in Aust it was a real witch hunt. Katich is still a real mystery to me whispers of personality clashes and the like but we have been frail in the top order ever since. I really rate Broads comments today super stuff as was his bowling real world class on and of the field today

  • on August 10, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    @coldcoffee123: my thoughts exactly on Katich.

  • gtr800 on August 10, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    'Had he not covered his off stump, he'd have been bowled.' I disagree with that statement- Hawk eye says it would have slightly hit the off stump. And its definitely not 100% accurate. May is a more accurate word to use. But yes he did have his luck, but the conditions Australia had very much much harder to play than that of England. Generally England have had all the luck in the series- tosses, conditions- rain saving them, DRS calls (soo many marginal calls in Trent Bridge). I would like to see Australia get another 120 odd runs more, I think that would certainly put them in pole position for this match

  • Bockee on August 10, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    History will rate this knock very, very highly. Well done Chris Rogers!

  • on August 10, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    i agree... simon katich? pure hardy brilliance and grit. no sense in making him sit out. he could still be matchworthy in time for the november clash.

  • coldcoffee123 on August 10, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    With Katich and Rogers opening, I can see Aus scoring 700+ consistently. Katich is not old, and more importantly, scoring tons. Why give Rogers a chance to bat at 36 years when you dropped Katich saying he is 36? Show me the logic, if any, CA.

  • coldcoffee123 on August 10, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    With Katich and Rogers opening, I can see Aus scoring 700+ consistently. Katich is not old, and more importantly, scoring tons. Why give Rogers a chance to bat at 36 years when you dropped Katich saying he is 36? Show me the logic, if any, CA.

  • on August 10, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    i agree... simon katich? pure hardy brilliance and grit. no sense in making him sit out. he could still be matchworthy in time for the november clash.

  • Bockee on August 10, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    History will rate this knock very, very highly. Well done Chris Rogers!

  • gtr800 on August 10, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    'Had he not covered his off stump, he'd have been bowled.' I disagree with that statement- Hawk eye says it would have slightly hit the off stump. And its definitely not 100% accurate. May is a more accurate word to use. But yes he did have his luck, but the conditions Australia had very much much harder to play than that of England. Generally England have had all the luck in the series- tosses, conditions- rain saving them, DRS calls (soo many marginal calls in Trent Bridge). I would like to see Australia get another 120 odd runs more, I think that would certainly put them in pole position for this match

  • on August 10, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    @coldcoffee123: my thoughts exactly on Katich.

  • mixters on August 10, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    @coldcoffee123 Never any logic where CA is concerned. Hussey quit when he saw they way the media hunted him out in Aust it was a real witch hunt. Katich is still a real mystery to me whispers of personality clashes and the like but we have been frail in the top order ever since. I really rate Broads comments today super stuff as was his bowling real world class on and of the field today

  • Mervo on August 10, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    I agree, bring back Katich and also add Adam Voges to the squad. Technique is all. We almost have to abandon a half generation of 'young guns' who have been seduced by the slog fest of T20 and never developed a technique like Rogers. You dont rack up 60 first class centuries by being a slogger. Time to concentrate on keeping the older players and working with the 17-19 year olds and let the Smiths, Hughes, and so on spend their days in the lesser forms of the game. They will never have the technique for Test cricket.

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 10, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    Thank you Chris Rogers for giving all us old buggers some hope! Had a spring in my step after watching you make it into triple figures :)

  • whoster on August 10, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    Even though I'm English, I'm delighted for Chris Rogers. Yes, it was an ugly, scratchy innings that owed a fair bit to luck - but this was a gutsy knock from a real professional. I saw his post-match interview with Ian Ward, and what a humble and unassuming bloke he is. His brief Test career could've been over after Lord's, but after his free-scoring 80-odd at Old Trafford, and now this, he's played a massive part in ressurecting the Aussie challenge in this series. Hats off.

  • righthandbat on August 10, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    The only Australian older than Chris Rogers to hit a century was Arthur Richardson, who also wore glasses.

    Katich could be a good option for the return series, with Clarke finally taking up the number 3 spot. I still prefer Watson at number 7 though, with Haddin at 6. Australia can then tinker with their bats at 4 and 5 until someone fits the role. Also Butterworth deserves a go in Australia.