Relic Rogers joins esteemed 300 club

Somerset captain makes history, and flies flag as the only Australian still plying his trade to have played in the 20th century

From a technique owing more to stoicism than style through to the unfashionable arm guard that some former teammates believe should itself be protected by the National Trust, Chris Rogers has long been seen as a cricketer hewn from a past era.

But as he prepares for his 300th first-class appearance – as captain of English county team Somerset against Lancashire at Taunton – Rogers extends his unique link to a history that few contemporary players can claim first-hand knowledge.

WATCH: Rogers reflects on the early days

The 38-year-old, who has represented two Australian states and five counties as well as his 25-Test international career and a host of representative and league appearances, is the only current Australian cricketer to have seen top-level action in the 20th Century.

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Even long-serving contemporary Michael Klinger, who records show played his inaugural first-class match for an Australia Cricket Academy XI in matches against Zimbabwe A and a Matabeleland provincial team in Zimbabwe in 1999, did not make his Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria until 2000.

"It's still one of the best domestic sides I've seen, they went through a really good era there and it was really hard to get into the side," Rogers recalled recently of his Shield debut for Western Australia in 1998 against New South Wales at the SCG.

"There was a good group of batters who were trying to (secure a berth) – Rob Baker, Michael Dighton, Marcus North, myself and one or two others.

"It was really competitive and tough to get in.

"I was pretty naïve back then and made a few mistakes, but it was a great learning curve."

That maiden Shield match came a month after Rogers had lined up alongside Justin Langer, Simon Katich and Michael Hussey for WA against Nasser Hussain's touring England team, which also featured seamer Alan Mullally who was born in England but raised in Perth.

And who had coincidentally taken the new ball for the opposition in Rogers' first appearance at grade cricket level for South Perth several years earlier.

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Rogers will be far from the first Australian player to notch 300 first-class appearances, even though modern-day Shield and Test players are pushed to register more than 25 a year given conflicting schedules and the competing commitments of limited-overs fixtures.

The fact that Ashes tours from decades past featured first-class games against every county outfit (and a few other invitational teams) coupled with the unrestricted access that overseas players once gained to the UK domestic scene meant even players who preceded the professional era could play pretty much year-round.

Neil Harvey, the sole surviving member of Don Bradman's 1948 'Invincibles' that completed an Ashes tour undefeated, played 306 first-class matches between 1946 and 1963.

Allan Border (385), Steve Waugh (356) and Greg Chappell (321) are all members of the 300 club, as are Michael Di Venuto (336 even though he never represented Australia at first-class level) and Justin Langer (360) who – with 28,382 runs – remains Australia's most prolific first-class batsman.

Rogers will enter his next county match requiring a further 482 to become the eighth Australian batsman to reach 25,000 first-class runs and, having indicated this will be his final county season after he quit Shield cricket last summer, won't threaten Langer's benchmark.

"You never say never, it depends how it goes but you can't play forever and hopefully other stuff will come up," Rogers told earlier this year prior to heading to Taunton to begin his one-year contract with Somerset.

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"Who knows, I might love it down in Somerset and it's quite nice because Devon was where I started as an 18-year-old which is south-west – the next county along – and all the people there were big Somerset supporters.

"So I've kind of done the full circle and it's nice to go back there and see some old friends."

Still several months shy of his 39th birthday, Rogers might glean motivation from the knowledge he is comfortably the 'youngest' of the three current players to have 20,000-plus first-class runs to their names.

Former England Test opener Marcus Trescothick, who bats immediately above Rogers in the Somerset top-order, posted his 59th first-class century just days ago at age 40 to lift his career runs tally to 23,673.

And evergreen West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul (25,472) recently completed his 25th first-class season with Guyana aged 41 in a team that also includes his 19-year-old son Tagenarine.

However, the introduction of the 'Kolpak' restrictions for counties looking to sign overseas players coupled with the need to incorporate a third (T20) format into domestic seasons and the continued culling of tour matches means the 25,000-run benchmark might be unreachable for those who follow.

Discarded England Test batsman Ian Bell, not yet 35, could play for a further five or more domestic seasons for Warwickshire to lift his total beyond his current 18,069 but would need to be consistently prolific in his twilight years to make that milestone.

And it goes without saying that Sir Jack Hobbs's career tally of 61,760 first-class runs will never be challenged.

Regardless of the ongoing advances in bat technology and preventative medicine.