Nine innings, seven fifties and one hundred — that’s been the story of Australian opener Chris Rogers in the recent times. In a side that boasts of a galaxy of superstars and World Champions, Rogers unassumingly prefers to stay in the shade of these guy’s shadows and goes on with the task in hand. It’s a cricketer’s dream to make it count at the game’s Mecca —Lord’s. Any professional cricketer’s wish-list is incomplete without the mention of Lord’s honours’ board in it.

In what was his second yet the last Test at Lord’s, Rogers rose out from the shadows and for once had the headlines favouring him. Quite unlike him, why? In the last three Tests against India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under in the previous season, Rogers scored six fifties in six innings and ended the tournament with an average of 52. The headlines belonged to Steve Smith and Virat Kohli, but Rogers, the unsung hero was merely talked about.

Batting legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting have all vied for a ton at Lord’s with no success. Rogers, whose Test career is set to end with 25 Tests (provided he plays all the games in the ongoing Ashes), has a distinction to his name that these legends struggled with.

After all, Rogers knows this venue better than anyone else — from the thousands in the stands to the slope to the conditions. He has captained Middlesex after all. The day one ended for Australia at 337 for one, with Rogers and Steve Smith putting on an unbeaten 259-run stand — beating the highest second-wicket Australian partnership record of 231 at Lord’s that was held by Don Bradman and Bill Woodfull back in 1930.

All about timing, with a tinge of luck

Rogers’ innings has been all about timing. It’s pretty evident that he masters the seaming conditions and plays it later. However the day could have been very different from what it is, had the third ball of the match got stuck to a slip-cordon fielder’s hand instead of flying away to the ropes. The innings was a mix of some exquisite cuts and drives amidst some half chances. But the man who waited 37-years for this time deserves that much; most of his career it has been an unrewarding toil. Roger’s maturity to regroup and continue with his innings was the hallmark of the day.

Big egos won’t always win you battles and this un-Australian approach was another reason for Rogers to flourish. Post the day’s play, the left-hander explained his antidote for Moeen Ali, who picked up five Australian wickets at Cardiff and dismissed David Warner on Thursday.

“You don’t have to hit him out of the attack, you can just play him normally,” said Rogers.

chris rogers
Designed by Srushti Takale

 

Right time to go?

He may be colour blind but at the moment no one is seeing the red cherry better than him. Talking of age, Rogers is a perfect representative of Michael Clarke’s “Dad’s Army”. He is in form of his life and it doesn’t seem that he’ll slow down soon. He isn’t getting younger and Shaun Marsh though hasn’t been as successful as Rogers, is waiting for his turn. In his short career, Rogers has looked more assured in pitches that present bounce or seam but hasn’t been comfortable in slow and rank turners.

It’s his choice in the end and if he has decided to hang up his boots post this Ashes. It’s a decision that needs to be respected rather than introspected. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly may be a wrong example here because Rogers never enjoyed the stardom like him. But when Ganguly retired he was among the best performers and in his last series he played a major role in seeing India snatch back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It’s a sportspersons dream to retire on a high.

 

 

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)

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