Cricket Australia

http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/justin-langer/2013/8/20/thrilled-to-see-rogers-rewarded

Justin Langer


Thrilled to see Rogers rewarded

20 August 2013 7

It has always been a strongly held view in Australian cricket that we pick the best performing players to represent our country.

Regardless of their age, those players who performed at Shield level, or more recently in the Australia A side, would be rewarded with selection.

This philosophy meant that players had to outperform if they wanted a chance to play for their country.

When I first came into the Australian cricket system there was also a perception that is was ‘harder to get out of the Australian cricket team than it was to get into it.’  

As one of the hunters on the fringe, this was tough to take, but it meant I had to improve in all aspects of the game if I wanted to take the place of one of the boys in the first XI.

Later in my career there was some comfort when I transitioned from hunter to hunted because I knew that I would get a bit of a run at it before one of the hungry hunters might steal my place from me.  

Complacency would have been senseless, but at least I had an inkling that destiny was in my hands.

The general rule of thumb was that you would get three Test matches to perform. 

If you did, you would be safe for another day; if you didn’t the selectors had every right to show you the door, and demand more consistent performance.

Because of these philosophies players like Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn and Michael Slater were given opportunities at a relatively young age. 

They performed well in Shield cricket and were deemed the best players in the country regardless of their young age.

At the other end of the spectrum Michael Hussey and Colin Miller were selected in their more senior years because they merited an opportunity.  They were rewarded for their outstanding performances.

Recently, I was thrilled at the selection of Chris Rogers in the Australian Test team. 

His first Test century was a tribute to his patience and determined perseverance, and should be a welcome reminder that players should be rewarded for performance, not talent or reputation.   

This successful and proven formula has worked so well in Australian cricket for so long, that we would be crazy to go away from it.

Whilst it is said that hindsight is a wonderful thing, the selectors should be applauded for rewarding a player who now has more than 20,000 first class runs to his name. 

Despite his years, he has been a brilliant performer in first class cricket and he deserves his break.  

Crystal balls and hindsight aside, it is a shame he hadn’t played thirty or forty Test matches leading into this Ashes series.  Had that been the case, we can imagine Australia’s opening partnership would have been more settled when the series began.

When I was playing for Western Australia, Chris Rogers and I opened the batting together.  What I liked about him then, and still do now, is his hunger to learn and improve.  

I also enjoyed his street fighting instincts and desire to get into the contest.  Even if he was playing touch football in the warm ups or debating a point, he was always competitive and combative; two important traits of an opening batsman.  

Chris's homespun stance is a tribute to his ability to work out the game.  Through thorough examination he now understands his own game to a point where he looks comfortable at the highest level.

It might be argued that he is an unfashionable cricketer with his unusual stance, glasses and quiet demeanor but I would take the unfashionable run machine any day over the pretty looking player who promises so much but delivers little.

In the end of the day the game is about performing and winning, not looking good but losing, and in Chris Rogers we see that.

Leading into this final Test at the Oval there is talk that Usman Khawaja might be omitted. This in my opinion would be a mistake for the simple reason that it would be another example of chopping and changing the team and batting order. 

When a team is losing it is obviously tempting to change the team, but often this is the time to retain faith in the guys who were deemed good enough a week or so before. The alarming trend of changing this Australian Test team can have longer term ramifications than the pain of actually losing a Test, or series.  

If the decision to leave Usman out of this final Test is made, then he and a few of his team mates should watch closely the plight of Chris Rogers who has brushed himself off more than once and is now living the dream through determination, focus and consistent performance.

His resilience over a long period of time is a shining example to every aspiring Test player who can learn that patience will be rewarded if you are willing to do what it takes to perform consistently over a long period of time.

From Perth

JL

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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