Rugged Rogers finally reaps rewards

Australia must stick with Chris Rogers in the mid-term.
Australia must stick with Chris Rogers in the mid-term.

So the Ashes are over! Well as a contest that is, England deserve their win as the better side across three of the four Test matches – but for Australia – more questions than answers lie ahead.

The Aussies must re-group and start the post-mortem ahead of the return series down under in November. It maybe that there will be casualties along the way as they seek to find the correct balance for success, but one man who must now surely be in their mid-term thinking is Chris Rogers.

The 35-year-old opener rose above the rest at Chester-le-Street with twin scores of 113 and 49 and he should now be given a decent run at the top of the Australian order.

His first innings 113 – made in difficult overcast conditions suggested that he not only has the technique for grinding it out at Test level but also the mental toughness.

He played and missed, nudged and nurdled but off his 227th ball of a growling second day’s play, Christopher John Llewellyn Rogers could finally say he was a Test centurion.

After been stuck on 96 for 20 deliveries, Rogers could have be forgiven for thinking his maiden Test century would never arrive – but this is the same man who only six months ago thought he would never represent his country again.

When it finally arrived, via a sweep off Graeme Swann, he was calm and reflective in his response – an acknowledgment to his partner Brad Haddin was followed by a brief raise of the bat and a removal of the helmet – fifteen years of toil were finally rewarded.

Rogers is a true fighter, an old fashioned opener, he accumulates his runs rather than caressing them and the innings that brought up his maiden Test ton was nothing unfamiliar – in all honesty it was ‘One hell of a scrap.’

But he is used to a scrap. His fifteen years in first-class cricket has seen him play for four different counties and two state sides – while he has just recently gone past the twenty thousand first-class runs mark – not bad for a guy who almost lost his Victoria contract a year ago – with his side keen on developing younger players instead.

At 35, he is the second oldest Australian to score a maiden Test century behind only Arthur Richardson, 37, who reached the feat in 1926 – but despite his age he is a player Australia must base their batting around in the next 18 months.

Originally brought back into the Test scene for this series as an experienced hand to replace the loss of both Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey – who retired at the conclusion of the Australian summer, he has suddenly become one of the side’s most important top order players.

After scoring just 4 and 15 – whilst replacing the injured Matthew Hayden on Test debut in January 2008, he had to wait a further five years for his opportunity on the international scene, and he started his comeback with mixed results.

A promising second innings fifty at Trent Bridge was followed by struggles at Lords and the doubters started calling for his head. Unflustered, Rogers went away to work on his game – before he went back to basics at Old Trafford and came out to score a fluent 84 in the first dig.

After so long in the international wilderness, it seemed he needed to prove he belongs at Test level to not only the public but to himself. His 84 in Manchester certainly brought him the confidence that he could succeed against this England attack and although his maiden century contained its fair share of luck – no one could begrudge the man they call ‘Bucky’ his long overdue success.

His second innings partnership of 109 with David Warner also brought positives for the Australians after Warner replaced Shane Watson at the top of the order. The pair seemed to compliment each other well in their differencing styles at the wicket – although they [Australia] will be looking for reinforcements in the batting line-up they should look no further than the current opening combination. Instant success will not come overnight but at least by keeping the opening combination the same they have a good base to work with.

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