Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/dean-wilson/2013/8/11/australia-in-the-ascendency

Dean Wilson

Australia in the ascendency

11 August 2013 2

Cricket Correspondent for the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper Dean Wilson says if the Ashes contest started at Old Trafford, Australia would be in the winning seat.

Three games and two days in, it is now clear that Michael Clarke's biggest mistake of this Ashes series was to snub the meeting between the Australians and the ICC.

When Geoff Allardice spoke to both teams, Clarke should have been there begging and pleading for them to start the Ashes contest officially from the Old Trafford Test and make it a best of three. 

If he could have swung it, then there is every chance the urn would be winging its way to Australia because they are in the ascendency. 

Just 16 runs shy of England's first innings total with five wickets still left to play for tells you that the visitors are once again on top. 

And with a centurion still not out at the crease, there is real power to add on day three in Durham. That man on 101 not out is Chris Rogers. 

35 years young within sneezing distance of his 36th birthday, yet it is his maiden Test match ton. 

His story is enough to warm the heart as the English summer slowly drifts away and is replace with an autumnal chill. 

He thwarted England's bowlers with a mixture of sweetly timed shots and determined defence as well as plenty of edges and false strokes. 

 His knock was not about looking good, it was about being effective and he was certainly that. 

It was an innings forged in county cricket. 

On seaming pitches, under leaden skies and with men who know how to bowl in those conditions tearing in at you and beating the edge for fun. 

You simply have to find a way to survive and that he did. 

When he got to his hundred with an uncharacteristic sweep off Graeme Swann it was the moment of realisation that he was not just another cricketer, he was a very very good one. 

You would think the scorer of over 20,000 first class runs at an average above 50 surely should have around 5,000 of those runs for his country. 

Not in Rogers case. 

An opener unfortunate enough to be playing in the slipstream of Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden, he perhaps thought that his time would come when they moved on. 

 Not so. He had to watch on as other were tried and removed. 

Meanwhile he just kept on churning out the runs at first class level both in Australia and in England. 

Personally I believe that any cricketer at first class level who is not there with the intention of making it as a Test match cricketer should move on. 

The county and state game should be a breeding ground for aspiring Test cricketers and once you reach an age where that dream is over then make way for the next generation. 

The exception to my rule is for those with an international career behind them and who can pass on their knowledge to the youngsters and help bring them on. 

Rogers never gave up on that dream, even though he had tasted it oh so briefly in 2008. 

And his perseverance in reaching this milestone is a salutatory lesson for us all. 

England thought they had him caught behind and then lbw but were found wanting in both cases by the DRS. 

There was no edge, which is what they had appealed for and been given a wicket for, and the sight of the ball just clipping the stumps was not enough for the decision to be upheld. 

Their swarming around the umpires after being knocked back was unedifying and goes to show that the system has not succeeded in improving player behaviour, if anything it is getting worse. 

That is what happens when you are legitimately able to question the authority of the man in the middle, it takes away some of the respect for the position and leads to a lack of respect all round. 

Australia battled hard on a day that started so well for England and for those of us who have seen him do it time and again, it looked like it might be the Stuart Broad show. 

His early three wicket burst was sensational stuff. 

He bowled the right length and got enough movement to find the edge or the stumps. 

And when Tim Bresnan got in on the act thanks to Steve Smith's edge England were buzzing. 

But Rogers and Shane Watson did what they should have done at Nottingham and Lord's in putting on a useful 129 together to take their team towards a lead. 

They stopped Broad in his tracks, and the way Watson eventually got out to him strangled down the leg side, was a win, but not really a moral victory. 

England's bowlers are used to bailing out their batsmen, but on this occasion they just might have met their match and that is a veteran cricketer with a youthful Test record.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.
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