Chris Rogers’ arm guard 

What was once white is now brown, or at best, grey. Through the middle the brown has mutated to yellow. At the end there is also black. It could be a stain, it could be mould. Instead of being soft and absorbent, it looks almost smooth and shiny in parts. And, you can smell it. Or at least you can feel you can.
It is Chris Rogers’ arm guard. It is Chris Rogers’ career.
Not the colour you want, it’s been lived in, it’s failed, it’s won, it’s got the odour of victory, and defeat, it should be replaced, it shouldn’t work anymore, it shouldn’t have ever worked.
Ian Chappell believes that the best Test players are picked young and then play for a generation. It’s a lovely idea. But if that was the case, then Australia’s recent and brief run to No. 1 in the world would not have happened. It needed the aged and ignored knees of Ryan Harris. It needed the punchy mouth of Brad Haddin. And it needed the dirty, stinky armguard of Chris Rogers.
Rogers’ career, much like that of Adam Voges after him and Ed Cowan before him, came from knowing his game, scoring runs at the right time, and the lack of generational batsmen. Rogers learnt his game at the crease, while no one watched. First-class seasons, piled one top of the other, were his wife. Big scores were his school yard. Every year, a new, often overlooked, big daddy score was his reward: 194, 209, 319, 279, 248*, 222, 200, 173, 214 and 241*, just to name a few.
That’s how you earn a brown armguard, that’s how you finally crack Test cricket in your mid-thirties.
Does Rogers play any pretty shots? No. At best, he is neat. And if someone asks you if your kids are pretty, and you reply, no, they’re neat, they’re clearly not pretty. Rogers plays effective shots. Sound shots. Checked shots. Squirts, pushes, dabs and turns. The ball is not dispatched to the boundary, it is ushered between fielders. There is no awe-inspiring crack on the bat, but a polite understated knock.
The armguard points back at the bowler like a battered shield. The backlift barely gets above the waist, and it’s hidden behind the crouch. The front foot moves quickly, but not far, just a small, toe-first semi step. The back foot moves over with it. The front foot inches further forward and the bat comes through straight, it meets the ball, and the ball heads off. The bat then goes into a weird checked move, like it feels it shouldn’t have played such a rash attacking shot. The blade is clutched by Rogers as he runs as fast as he can to get the greatest reward for his safe nudge.
It’s a three, not a four. It’s a transaction, not a painting. Rogers’ team-mates say he has a pillow on his bat, but it’s a safety blanket. Even his six here – his first in Tests – was an accident or, at best, chance.
Before this Test, and with only a mere, non-world record six straight Test fifties, some questioned whether he would come straight back into this team. Rogers even believed it himself, while sitting around with his concussion, he wondered if that was how it ended. With a net bowler hitting him on the head, one fifty short of the world record, and then never to play again.
He was to be replaced eventually, so why not now?
Today Rogers batted with multimillionaires, stars, potential legends. Australia’s cheeky bad boy franchise star, Australia’s new odd batting prodigy, and Australia’s Ashes and World Cup-winning captain. And when he went out, he had scored more than David Warner, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke combined. No one had really noticed. They weren’t really supposed to. It was just supposed to happen, and so it did. Much like almost every other moment of his career.
With an Australia batting line-up that has repeatedly struggled in the first innings, Rogers has made eight scores of 50 and above from 21 innings. Australia need more hundreds, Rogers wants more hundreds, but his fifties are so important.
Rogers put on an opening partnership of 50, then two more partnerships over 50. He, for the seventh, and world record, time in a row made 50. Australia Invincible and opening batsman Bill Brown said his job was to get to lunch. Australia’s fallen hero Phillip Hughes was known to say dig in and get to tea. Chris Rogers just makes fifties.
Perhaps he doesn’t smell of roses, isn’t shiny and new, won’t play for a generation, and is at best neat. But he is those things while making a lot of fifties. And today, without his runs, Australia would have made something uglier than a Chris Rogers armguard.

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One thought on “Chris Rogers’ arm guard 

  1. Jon Norman says:

    Like it. Who is the Chris Rogers arm guard of the press pack?

    Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2015 23:32:02 +0000 To: jonno_norman@hotmail.com

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