Chris Rogers has been prolific in every season he has played in England © PA Photos
News : Petersen to miss Somerset opener
News : Batting woes have Rogers, Voges in Ashes contention
Players/Officials: Chris Rogers
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Scotland | County Championship Division One | England Domestic Season
Teams: Australia | England | Middlesex | Victoria
Arthur Coningham, Ken Eastwood, Mick Malone. Three names that are part of a club that Chris Rogers is in danger of joining: the Australian one-Test wonders.
All three enjoyed fine first-class careers but were never given the chance on the international stage. At 35 it is quite perceivable that Rogers will end his career with the same footnote.
It will be quite puzzling if Rogers never plays another Test. He was considered good enough to break into the Australian side, then the world’s No. 1, in 2008, but four years later continues to be overlooked for a side struggling for runs.
Rogers reels off the names of players preferred to him since his only Test in Perth. None of them get close to his near-19,000 first-class runs at a shade under 50.
“It has always felt like there’s always been someone else who has come in to take that available spot,” Rogers told ESPNcricinfo. “Whether it’s a Katich or a Cowan or a Hughes. There’s always been someone else. It all comes down to opportunity and it would be nice to have had more than one Test to show people that I can play.”
He can most certainly play. Last summer he passed 1,000 runs in an English season for the sixth time (he has passed the mark in two Australian seasons). His 1,086 runs at 40.22 led Middlesex to third place in the County Championship – their best finish since 1995.
He cannot be shouting louder in the ears of the Australian selectors. But they continue to allow his case to pass over them. They selected Rob Quiney – only five years Rogers’ junior but with fifty fewer first-class centuries – against South Africa before Christmas. And he was allowed to have a go in two Tests.
Selections like Quiney’s are a killer to Rogers who can do no more than keep the mobile phone charged up. “It’s hard to keep getting excited about the prospect of a recall because I have waited a few years for a phone call and it hasn’t come,” he said. “The selectors have gone in a different direction and there are only so many times you can get your hopes up.”
But maybe this summer Rogers will be too hard to ignore. Australia’s top-order batting has consistently failed and a proven run-producer is sitting waiting on the shores to which they will tour. John Inverarity, the Australian chairman of selectors, has said Rogers will be seriously considered. Surely cause for positivity?
“I’m not sure if positive is the right word,” Rogers said. “I think there’s a chance. Guys who’ve had the opportunity over the past couple of years haven’t really nailed their spot and that has maybe left the door a little bit ajar.”
Omission from the Ashes would almost certainly bring a final slump of the shoulders from Rogers, who averages just 0.33-of-a-run below Justin Langer in first-class cricket.
If it is not meant to be Rogers can concentrate on helping Middlesex complete their transformation. When he joined the club in 2011, they were at a particularly low ebb having finished second-bottom of the Championship the year before. But his runs rallied them back into Division One and last season’s third sees them installed as contenders for the title in 2013.
A tonic for international disappointment perhaps? “As you get older the desire to win things comes much greater and to captain a side – which two years ago was struggling – to a Championship would be something I could be very proud of. But playing for your country is still the ultimate.”