Chris Rogers - Australia's most underrated opener
Anybody who follows cricket, even those who do so occasionally, would have found it hard to ignore the eulogies and tributes for two modern day greats of the game – Kumar Sangakkara and Michael Clarke. The game will be poorer without these two stars, at least for a while. The nature of the sport is such that it will nourish and nurture its servants who are as diligent and dedicated as these stalwarts and catapult them to soaring heights.
Amidst all these celebrations, I am afraid that we are forgetting to appreciate the end of a career that has been as wonderful and as eventful as any cricketing career can get. The numbers may not tell the story but the context will gleefully oblige to do so.
Chris Rogers endured a wait without knowing whether it was worth it, and lived his dream and perhaps his destiny without many realizing that he had defeated all odds en route his journey. The word ‘understated’ would find a perfect synonym in Rogers.
For someone who made it into the most competent team as a stop-gap arrangement and went on to play the role religiously for almost 50 innings, Rogers certainly must be proud of himself. Mind you, not many would have donned this hat to perfection given his age and lack of flair.
Many people will argue that there are a lot of intangibles that a player brings to the table apart from the number of runs and wickets he earns. Let us for a moment collate all those intangibles as “impact factor”. Rogers had that in abundance, though there will hardly be any bowler from the rival ranks putting his hand up and agreeing with the same.
David Warner has become more calm and composed after the arrival of Rogers. The pair has consistently stitched together promising opening stands, laying the foundation for the following batsmen to flourish – Michael Clarke and Steven Smith will readily concur with that.
Rogers is not swashbuckling; neither is he the one who buckles under pressure. One must also credit the Aussie set-up for continuing with him; they had observed this “impact factor” better than many. It would have been easy for them to drop Rogers on the ground that he is not aggressive enough with the bat or with the chirping.
But they didn’t. They cleverly understood and equated aggression with stubbornness and willingness to be persevering – a point Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri can very well learn from.
Experts will always stress that cricket is a wonderful game to play when you realize your limitations and play accordingly. For anyone who is playing alongside Warner and seeing him toy with the opposition bowlers, it would be tempting to take the same path. But Rogers refrained from doing so, and this discipline certainly carved the major part of his success.
You can always argue that Rogers did not know how to dominate the bowlers, but let us look at another angle too. He had sculpted his game after years of hard work and perseverance – every day in that process would have added to his trust in his very own style of batting. For every aspiring cricketer, this could be the greatest lesson from the chapter of Chris Rogers – toil hard relentlessly and trust your game, for you are unique.
He has been such a character – a soothing tree providing shade where skilled warriors can rest and move forward. We will never miss him for we were always obsessed with the warriors and cared less about the tree along the way. But that doesn’t make him any less important.