Ashes Mind Games Begin

Surrey has done its bit for England by giving Chris Rogers a double century in the recently concluded County match against Middlesex, at Lord’s.  And the ploy appears to be working.  Australian head selector, John Inverarity is in raptures.  Mickey Arthur is excitedly texting Rogers not to use up all his runs.  Rogers is on the right track to get out of the “One Test Wonder Club” and several incumbents in the Australian top order should be concerned.

I have to admit that I was rather surprised when Chris Rogers made the Ashes squad.  It is true that Australia is poor in Test batting assets.  And possibly the selectors were trying to bring some experience into the squad.  But bringing in an old guy for its own sake isn’t the answer.  Rogers will have his 36th birthday six days after the end of the 5th Test.  He has played just one Test and that was more than five years ago.

So is Rogers just an old guy who will add some experience to the team?  I had to have a look at the Sheffield Shield stats to get some idea.  Firstly, on stats, Rogers deserves selection.  He was easily one of the best performed in 2012-13.  He was 3rd highest run scorer and had the fourth highest average of batsmen with more than 400 runs for the season.  But to put that in perspective, Ricky Ponting who had struggled for his place in the team was the lead run scorer and had the best average – by miles on both counts.

What it does highlight, is just how bare the cupboard is.  Aside from the handful around the 50 mark, the averages for most of the top run scorers were mid-twenties to high thirties.  Gone are the days when aside from the Test batsmen, the Sheffield Shield had evergreens such as Martin Love, Greg Blewitt, Jamie Cox, Stuart Law, Michael Bevan and Brad Hodge churning out the runs and averaging over fifty. I have heard it said that on the whole, pitches for the Shield this year were bowler friendly.  But how friendly?

At any rate, Chris Rogers may well be rewarded for skipping IPL (and maybe he didn’t get any invitations) and going to England for County cricket.

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