When you are 37 years of age and the oldest member of what the Barmy Army has labelled “Dad’s Army”, you know time is not on your side. Any failure means you’re inching closer to shedding pads, helmet, returning Arthur Morris’s arm guard and possibly joining Shane Warne on the world poker tour.
But it was Chris Rogers who held all the aces on day two in Cardiff. Up against some high-quality swing bowling from Stuart Broad and James Anderson early in the innings, he looked all set for his fifth Test ton until he was dismissed edging behind off the bowling of the promising Mark Wood for 95.
After making his Test debut back in the 2007-08 summer, and despite scoring a mountain of domestic runs, he spent six years attending the annual Australian “One Test Wonders” club general meetings featuring such names as Jeff Moss, Peter George and Mick Malone (surely the unluckiest one-Test wonder in the 1977 Ashes tour: he swung the ball around corners, taking six wickets, including 5 for 63 in the first innings, and scored 46 runs but never played again). But after this workmanlike innings, “Bucky” Rogers can now attend the “Batsmen to Score Seven Consecutive Test Fifties” club. It’s a table for five – although Rogers can sit at the head of the table as the only opening batsman.
Opening batsmen are a unique bunch. They constantly have the difficult mission of taking on the opposition fast bowlers, with new balls often sent down at 95mph. This role takes a lot of courage and skill, and openers put in the hostile environment often form a strong bond. I witnessed cricket’s first opening batting “bromance” when Matty Hayden and Justin Langer first opened together in the 2001 Ashes Test at The Oval. Their relationship blossomed on and off the field so much so that they often still catch up to have a net session together, even though they both retired 10 years ago.
The Dave Warner and Rogers partnership is not quite a “bromance”... more like a cricketing ‘“odd couple”. Warner is brash and super-competitive, not allergic to the limelight and often pumps himself up in his pre-ball routine like a boxer waiting for the ring of the bell. Rogers, on the other hand, is super-professional and workmanlike in his approach. His most flamboyant attributes are his Ralph Malph hair colour and reputedly his Michael Jackson-type moves on the dance floor.
Both players have complemented each other in this successful partnership since being united in the 2013 Test at Durham when England won by 74 runs to clinch the series. Rogers has helped Warner learn the art of batting, the importance of having a game plan in all match scenarios, including backing his defence against good deliveries and letting his natural instincts put away the bad ball. Warner’s incredible Test strike rate of 75 runs per 100 balls allows Rogers to go quietly about his business, rotating the strike, not getting bogged down and allowing Warner the strike when he is on song.
It was a very typical Rogers innings. Good balls were blocked. Full balls beautifully cover-driven. Short balls cut and straight, length deliveries worked into the leg side with soft hands. The only “un-Rogers” moment was his top-edge off Broad that brought up his first six in Test cricket. I don’t think this will become a habit.
The Steven Smith v Moeen Ali battle was very lively. There’s no doubt the fidgety Aussie No 3 was keen to impose himself on the English off-spinner from the start of the battle. In his fourth over Moeen starting floating his offies like a butterfly but Smithy stung like a bee, smashing 13 runs, including three boundaries. But Moeen won the bout, dismissing for 33 Smith, who lost his wicket with a shot no one in the press box could aptly describe. But he looks like he’d be a handy billiards player.Reuse content