John Townsend: Batsmen are faced with the gravity of the situation

The Aussie Angle: Australia's top order is being confronted by forces both within and beyond its control

John Rogers has waited more than five years to watch his son Chris return to Test cricket.

A handy cricketer in his own right who played a handful of matches for New South Wales before moving to Perth to run the Western Australian Cricket Association, Rogers was nonetheless not enough of a slave to the action to watch his son's every moment on the field in that belated return.

On Friday, for example, he travelled a few miles from Trent Bridge to Grantham in order to inspect Isaac Newton's famous apple tree.

Gravity compelled an apple to fall from that tree on to the dozing Newton one summer's afternoon three centuries ago and a similar force is being applied to the Australian top order.

But whereas Newton's laws describe an orderly relationship between force and motion, there is a less predictable form of gravity exerting its pull on Australia.

It comes as little surprise to those who have observed Rogers pile up runs and centuries over the past five years that he experienced success on his Test return.

Armed with precise footwork, soft hands and a willingness to play the ball as late as possible, the product of countless hours of experience facing the new ball in all circumstances and conditions, Rogers is as well equipped as anyone in world cricket to combat England's swingers.

And as he defied the England bowlers for four hours across the two innings, an investment in resolve even more valuable than the 16 and 52 runs he contributed, Rogers mirrored the recent approach of two other dogged left-handers in Simon Katich and Justin Langer.

All West Australian products, even if two were forced to look for greener pastures after their initial taste of Test cricket, they thrived in the old-fashioned role of blunting the attack.

Other members of the top order have less defined roles and are playing with the uncertainty of those with limited job security. Shane Watson is a bludgeoning opener whose ability to hit boundaries against the new ball makes him highly dangerous. But he has two flaws – a heavy front foot and an inability to convert reasonable starts into major scores.

No regular batsman in Test history exceeds Watson's record of falling between 30 and 60 in 35 per cent of his innings. Watson's innings yesterday told the tale of his career in an hour – a series of crunching drives, the framework for a substantial construction then, predictably enough, lbw attempting to swipe across his front pad.

Ed Cowan was collateral damage in Australia's bid to pair Watson and Rogers as the opening partnership most capable of resisting England's top-class swing bowlers. Now he is struggling to adapt to the different demands of No 3.

Twice he has fallen in this match by pushing hard at deliveries that required no attention.

Cowan had a golden domestic summer when England last toured Australia and was in the right place at the right time when Watson was injured a year later. Throughout his 18 Tests though, Cowan has been dogged by the perception that his demise is imminent.

Cricketing gravity has seen his career average fall to 31; Newton's principle of uniform motion suggests it will continue to move in that direction unless that momentum is arrested.

Steve Smith is energetic, inventive, light on his feet and rarely overawed. Phil Hughes has a temperament that fighting men would crave on any battlefield. All these batsmen should be subject to the natural forces that keep a top order in shape and moving in the same direction. Instead, the top order is being confronted by forces both within and beyond its control.

And with the fate of the first Test slipping away, that is a matter of significant gravity.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power