Ashes 2015: Chris Rogers' absence would hit partnership crucial to Australia's resurgence at Lord's

EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: He and David Warner show how two totally opposite guys can make a great pair

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The Independent Online

It was Chris Rogers who set up Australia’s crushing win at Lord’s with that steadying 173 in the first innings, and if he does not play at Edgbaston he will certainly be missed.

But Rogers has been suffering the after-effects of a blow to the head that he took and of course the doctors have to be cautious. This is what happened in the West Indies, when Rogers was hit while in the nets and had to miss the Test series. He wanted to play then and he wants to play now, but it is not up to him.

The opening pairing of Rogers and David Warner over the last two years has been a great success for Australia and a big part of their resurgence in Test cricket under Darren Lehmann. What Rogers and Warner show is how two totally opposite guys, and totally opposite players, can still make a great combination.

Rogers showed exactly what he is in the first innings at Lord’s, when he batted the whole of the first day to set up the 566 total which won Australia the match. Rogers gave Australia precisely what they needed – and what I wrote about in The Independent beforehand – which are patience and discipline, good old-fashioned Test cricket skills that can get forgotten in the modern game.

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Warner, as we all know, is the opposite. He is explosive and attacking. He reminds me of my old team-mate Matthew Hayden, in that when he is on song he can be 70 not out by lunch.

Warner can do something very special, which is to take the game away from the opposition in one session. Not many batsmen can do that but Warner can, which is why you accept that sometimes he is going to get out attacking, as he did to Moeen Ali on day one at Lord’s. But when Warner is in and scoring runs, all the opposition captain’s concentration is on him and trying to stop him.

This is why Rogers’ partnership with Warner is so impressive. The key to batting with someone like Warner is to make sure that you do not get wrapped up in the excitement of it, that you do not try to keep up with his scoring rate. The guy at the other end has to keep his head, and stick to his own gameplan. That is what I had to do when I was batting with Ricky Ponting or Adam Gilchrist and they were scoring quickly. That is what it means to bat well in partnership together and that is what Rogers is so good at.

So if Shaun Marsh comes in to replace Rogers, he will have to do the same. Marsh is different in style to Rogers, he is probably somewhere in between Rogers and Warner. But I think he could do the job. Remember, Marsh opened the batting in the West Indies with Warner when Rogers was out with his last concussion.

 

Marsh is a dynamic attacking batsman, who is capable of scoring quickly. But he also keeps it simple and seems confident in his own game at the moment, as shown by his 100 against Derbyshire last week. He has played enough cricket in different formats that I think he would adjust quickly and combine well with Warner.

This is a fundamental point about Test cricket. The fact is that in any dressing room, the 11 guys will all be different, with their own personalities and characteristics. Hayden and Justin Langer were different, but batted brilliantly together.

I remember when I was a player how there were different dynamics in different partnerships. When I was batting with Mark Waugh he would barely say anything between overs, just a few words then we would get back to it. With Ponting, we would usually joke about something someone said at dinner the previous evening. And Adam Gilchrist was a great mate who I have known all my life.

All players are different – David Warner, Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh – but  when you tour together you find a way to get on. What matters most then, is the team culture, the collective spirit of the guys. Get that right, then everything else will follow.

Edgbaston brings back bad memories from 2005

The return to Birmingham this week reminds me of the famous Edgbaston Test in 2005, which remains one of the most dramatic I have ever played in. Of course, for us the memories are not very happy but I do understand what a huge moment that was for English cricket.

Whenever I look back on it I still don’t know why Ricky Ponting decided to bowl after he won the toss. We were 1-0 up in the series after winning at Lord’s and with a big day of batting at the start we could have kept up our momentum and squeezed England out of the series. But it was a chaotic first morning, with Glenn McGrath injuring his ankle in the warm-up, and we decided to bowl.

Michael Vaughan knew that England needed to grab the momentum back and they did that by scoring 407 on day one. I guarantee that if you go through the history of Test cricket, only a tiny percentage of teams who score more than 400 in the first innings will go on to lose. England had the momentum and the scoreboard pressure and the crowd were back on their side. That first day was when the momentum changed in the series and we were always behind in the game from there.

When we were chasing 282 to win we all thought in the dressing room that our chances of getting it were slim and that we would need a lot of luck. We were so  close, but the luck went England’s way,  as Michael Kasprowicz was caught behind when he hadn’t hit the ball. If we had had DRS back then, Australia would have won and gone 2-0 up!

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