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After reading all the media ‘to and fro’ about Clarke’s true qualities and finally getting the word that Rogers will be finishing up at the end of the fifth test, the day has finally arrived.
Today we find out what lessons the batsmen have learned and also what many of the team are made of. While its good-bye to Clarke and Rogers, maybe Voges and Shaun Marsh too, all eyes will be on Smith and Warner to see how they are going to take on the next generation of challenges.
Warner has actually looked pretty good so far in the series. An average of 41.62 says he has technically done his job at the top of the order. When you add in Rogers’ average of 62.42, the problems certainly haven’t been with getting a start.
The new Vice-captain has looked untroubled at times, only to throw his wicket away. After the last test at Trent Bridge he said that he might have to put the paddle shot to behind square away and just go back to hitting sixes. It’s not such a bad idea.
While he hasn’t smashed the bowling to all parts of the ground, there can be no complaints about his contribution, just his mental application. It feels like he has been stuck between trying to be a more all-round batsmen and not all about the boundaries. It could be that he has watched the runs that Smith has been accumulating and wants to develop his game to include not just centuries, but big centuries.
In the article I wrote about Warner being named VC, I felt that it was the wrong choice. My instinct still says that the example set in this appointment is not acceptable. BUT, the more I look at Warners’ recent batting record, the more I think he is actually on the path to taking his game to the next level. The added responsibility of the leadership role could really be the catalyst he needs. I’m hoping that we are about to see something polished from his efforts.
Captain in waiting Steve Smith should be hanging for another green top. As the man who will bring the team over here next, he should be looking to send a message. If he can come out and scrap a hard fought 50, or even better, a 100 on a green top batting at three, it will plant a seed in the English camp to say, ‘you got me this series, but it didn’t take long for me to learn, and in four years I’m coming back to smash you.’ If he does, I think you will see him stay at three once he takes the reigns.
On the other hand, if he get cleaned up in the first hour for single figures, the English will hold little fears of him returning. The long term seed will be in Smiths mind that he needs to find a way of combating the English conditions before he returns. It’s a long time before he can put the chat to rest about his batting frailties, and I would expect that he will drop to four and a specialist top order bat will be tested over this summer against New Zealand and West Indies.
It’s incredible to think how much Rogers has been able to cement himself in the hearts of the average Australian cricket fan in just 25 tests. To me, he has shown that you don’t need to be loud, aggressive and full of smart arse comments to be a successful Australian cricketer.
Rogers has been a gentlemen from start to finish. Quiet and unassuming, he oozes the vibe of someone that has had to work so hard for all of his accolades and takes not one second of his time in this team for granted. I know we hear it from pretty much everyone that dons the Baggy Green, but surely Chris Rogers is one that optimises what we all hope the Baggy Green still means.
In an era of T20 and big pay checks, he has just gone about his business. Currently sitting on a massive 31,735 runs at a List A or above level, there can be no underestimating how much Australia will miss him. He sets a great example for any young cricketer coming in the test side, both on and off the field. To think he scored his first duck after 45 innings shows how lucky we have been to have him start our innings off for the last few years.
I really hope after a well-earned rest, that we see him as the Australian U/19’s or even U/17’s batting coach. A guy like Rogers cannot be wasted, and we certainly cannot let him get picked up by the English. I think they would have just as much chance to gain his services as Australia does. Throw the cheque book at him Cricket Australia.
Good luck to obviously Rogers and Clarke, but perhaps more importantly to Warner and Smith. This is the farewell to the old guard and the first chance the new era will get to show that they have already started preparing for their return.