Rogers to open as Australia pursues record-breaking 17th test win
PERTH – After days of waiting and batting, and waiting and batting, Chris Rogers finally got the handshake he had been craving from Australian cricket coach Tim Nielsen.
On standby since Sunday to replace Matthew Hayden in case the burly Queenslander failed to recover from a hamstring injury, Rogers has trained, and batted in the nets and for his club without any clue whether he would be playing or not.
But after Hayden’s run of 86 successive test appearances was officially ended in a pitchside meeting with Nielsen, skipper Ricky Ponting and trainer Alex Kountouris, Rogers was told he would be making a test debut on home soil, against India at the WACA ground today. Ponting confirmed that Hayden – who has not missed a test since 2000 – had not sufficiently overcome soreness in his right hamstring and that he was too great a risk to take into the match, where Australia chase a record 17th successive win.
“I am really excited at the moment, and hope I do the baggy green proud,” Rogers said.
“You couldn’t script it better to play in front of your home crowd, and that is something you will always remember. I probably thought maybe I had missed the boat, but also I thought there could be an opportunity.
“You never want to wish an injury on anyone, but there is always a chance that might happen. It is unlucky for Matt and I feel for him, but it is a great opportunity for me.”
A miserable start to the season saw Rogers miss out to Phil Jaques as the replacement for Justin Langer, in part because of an appendix operation which kept him out of action at a crucial time.
A mystery stomach virus then curtailed his action, but since returning, a Pura Cup haul of over 300 runs at an average of over 40 has again proved his credentials.
However, Ponting said it was an innings Rogers played against the Australians for county side Leicestershire, during the Ashes Tour of England in 2005, that had stuck in his mind.
“I was very impressed with what I saw that day, and this is his opportunity, there’s no doubt about that,” Ponting said.
During that knock, Hayden told Rogers he should consider getting out to aid the side. But yesterday Hayden said he was delighted for Rogers, despite his personal disappointment at missing the chance to complete a world record 17 test wins in a row.
“Obviously I am very disappointed missing this test match – it is going to be a really special,” Hayden said
Quickie Shaun Tait will come into the side, as Australia opted for an all-pace attack for the first time since 1992. Brad Hogg is the 12th man.