Rogers to open for Australia with Watson in first Ashes test

Recalled veteran will partner Watson at top of batting order in Trent Bridge opener

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 5:36am

Chris Rogers will have the chance to revive his international cricket career after Australia coach Darren Lehmann confirmed the veteran batsman would open alongside Shane Watson in next week's first Ashes test at Trent Bridge.

Lehmann, brought in last week after Cricket Australia sacked former coach Mickey Arthur, had already indicated all-rounder Watson would be returning to the top of the order.

But with Australia's squad featuring several openers, that still left some doubt about the identity of Watson's first-wicket partner.

However, former Australia batsman Lehmann ended speculation by announcing the 35-year-old Rogers, who has enjoyed several successful stints in English county cricket, would open having made his lone test appearance five years ago when he scored 15 and four against India.

I've dreamt about this but I didn't necessarily believe it would ever come true. This opportunity is one that is not going to come too often

"I've dreamt about this but I didn't necessarily believe it would ever come true," Rogers said. "This opportunity is one that is not going to come too often.

"I have nothing to lose and hopefully I can take that attitude into the test. It's going to be about managing my emotions."

Australia were facing Worcestershire yesterday in their second and final four-day warm-up match ahead of the first test starting next Wednesday.

Rogers and Watson are both in the side to play Worcestershire, as is Ed Cowan, a test opener under Arthur whose prospects of playing at Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground appear to have been hit by Lehmann's decision.

So too were those of opener David Warner, banned until the start of the first test after punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar.

Rogers captained Middlesex during the early part of this season following stints with rival English counties Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

He averages an impressive 50.38 in first-class cricket, with 60 hundreds in 239 matches.

It is highly unusual for Australia to recall a player after so long in the international wilderness, particularly one as old as Rogers.

But an unconcerned Lehmann said: "You can always improve, whatever age you are. That's what we want to do, learn and get better, and if we can keep doing that on and off the ground we'll be fine."

Lehmann added Australia were close to finalising their Trent Bridge XI but stressed some places were still up for grabs.

"There's not many [question marks] now. We're pretty comfortable with it," he said. "We're pretty close. It's one or two [places] and we'll work those out over the next four or five days.

"We'll make sure everyone gets the best chance to go forward for selection for the first test."

England are bidding for their third straight test series win over Australia - something they last achieved in the 1950s.

Lehmann acknowledged England would start the series as favourites following Australia's troubles under Arthur, including a 4-0 series loss in India earlier this year.

But he insisted an Australia side written off in some quarters as the "worst to tour England for 30 years" would be competitive.

"We deserve to be underdogs to be fair," said Lehmann, who knows English cricket well from his time as a player with Yorkshire.

"England have been pretty good for a long period of time. We have to play our best, we know that, but it'll be a tighter series than everyone thinks, I reckon."

Agence France-Presse, Reuters