Rogers proves he s a fighter
Chris Rogers. Pic: Getty Images

John Inverarity is not the most revered person in Australian cricket, though neither is he as reviled as his predecessor Andrew Hilditch, but he must be lauded for his decision to punt on Chris Rogers over the past six months.

The veteran opener finished his 10-Test Ashes campaign with 830 runs, the only player on either team to go past 800, and the momentum to take on Dale Steyn and co. in South Africa next month with confidence.

Like a heavyweight boxer in one of the brutal and seemingly endless duels of days gone by, Rogers broke his Ashes title fight into 20 separate rounds.

Each Ashes innings constituted one round, though his second-innings absence from the crease at The Oval last August meant one could be considered a bye.

Rogers made a cautious start against the stinging jabs of James Anderson and Stuart Broad at Trent Bridge last winter, slogged through the pain and torment of Graeme Swann's relentless probing during the middle stages and then finished the bout with a flurry of haymakers.

No element of his 10-match journey was sweeter than his ability to keep Anderson at bay for all but one delivery this series.

Rogers faced 261 balls from the England spearhead in Australia and succumbed only in the second innings at Adelaide.

Negating Anderson's deadly impact at the start of the innings was one of the key elements of Australia's strategy because it meant he could be prevented from scything through the top order while the Kookaburra ball was at its most dangerous.

Although the top order has been brittle all series, and it required a series of Brad Haddin rearguard actions for Australia to build substantial first innings totals, Anderson was not the player to wreak the damage.

The two tons Rogers produced at the MCG and SCG, both fluent essays in masterly crease craft, gave him three in an 11-Test career that floundered for five years after his initial appearance in 2008.

Captain Michael Clarke took 24 Tests to score three centuries, while Shane Watson was even more laborious in taking 46 matches to reach the mark.

And flamboyant David Warner, whose career average of 40.93 is only half a run better than Rogers' despite a reputation as one of the most brutal and effective openers in the game, was no faster to reach three centuries.

Rogers has regretted the lost opportunities of the past five years, arguing his technique, experience and temperament meant he had plenty to offer Australian cricket at a time of top-order experimentation.

While several influential Australian cricket people looked past the 20,000 first-class runs and 60 centuries Rogers had under his belt at the end of last summer, Inverarity saw something of rare value in the doughty left-hander.

After a summer when his selection panel has simply underlined the 11 names it read out before the first Test, Inverarity can be proud that his faith and foresight in Rogers has been so richly rewarded.

The West Australian

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