John Townsend: Chris Rogers haunted by Old Trafford ghost but proves he belongs

The Aussie Angle: There were such doubts that he was considering a move to Tasmania

Chris Rogers may be a darling at Lord's after his yeoman service for Middlesex over the past three years but he is no fan of the ghost in an MCC tie who disrupted his career-defining innings at Old Trafford.

While the closure of the curtain overshadowed the performance, Rogers proved in nearly three hours on centre stage that he has the chops to remain in top company. It took him 15 years in the game and more than 200 first-class matches to walk out to the middle at Old Trafford, but it was a satisfied man who returned to the changing room with 84 to his name. Satisfied, but frustrated in equal parts.

The left-hander was on cruise control for much of his innings and he motored into the eighties with the ease of a batsman having a net with a few mates down at the local park on a sunny afternoon. But as he neared the century that had been a dream for so many years and appeared beyond reach for just as many, Rogers became enmeshed in the distractions of his environment.

Members moving in the pavilion were waved away with an angry flourish that spoke of the mental mosquitoes starting to buzz at the edges of his concentration. An elderly gentleman in an MCC tie was the subject of Rogers' particular attentions and finally got the message sufficiently to close a glass door in front of him where he stood, like an egg-and-bacon apparition, peering down at the action.

The episode had its inevitable conclusion a moment or two later when Rogers attempted to clip Graeme Swann through midwicket but was trapped as he hit across the line. It was one of the few errors of judgement during an innings that produced his highest Test score, took him past 20,000 first-class runs and validated the selection rationale for his Ashes elevation at the age of 35.

Rogers had needed 58 runs to reach 20,000 in a career of consistent excellence and set off with alacrity as both new-ball bowlers gave him opportunities to drive on both sides of the wicket.

James Anderson was squirted for four through gully then overpitched and was driven straight. The bowler came around the wicket within a few balls as he sought to probe Rogers' defences but the batsman was up to the task and drove through the covers time and again. Three fours in four balls took Rogers past 50 and into the realm of that long-held dream. It was exquisite strokeplay from a player more renowned for his workmanlike approach, though a decade of prolific batting must have provided many occasions when the blade flashed and the runs flowed.

Only 13 batsmen have scored a double century against Shane Warne and Rogers' 279, made for Western Australia against Victoria seven years ago, is nearly at the top of the pile. Were it not for V V S Laxman and his ethereal 281 at Calcutta, Rogers would have the honour of the greatest score against the greatest bowler of his and maybe any era.

That feat contrasted with such doubts about his future less than a year ago that he was considering moving to Tasmania and it took intervention from the national selector, John Inverarity, for his new state Victoria to extend his contract. It is to Inverarity's great credit that he had the vision to see Rogers opening for Australia in this series, where the batsman's experience and technical ability against the swinging ball were identified as keys to the attempt to regain the Ashes.

Rogers had concerns before the match that David Warner's imminent return had put his place in jeopardy. He walked off Old Trafford aware that he could still be part of the first act when the curtain goes up on the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG in five months' time.

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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee