- England v Australia, 4th Ashes Test, Durham, 2nd day
Rogers scraps Australia into strong position
Australia 222 for 5 (Rogers 101*, Watson 68, Broad 4-48) trail England 238 by 16 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ugly was beautiful for Chris Rogers and Australia. On the most difficult day to bat in the Ashes series so far, with Stuart Broad breathing fire in the sorts of spells he can occasionally conjure, Rogers scrapped, scraped, nudged and edged his way to a century few who witnessed it will forget. From a position early in the day where it looked as though a team total of around 100 was not out of the question, the tourists reached the close only 16 runs shy of England's total with five wickets in hand. For that they had to thank Rogers and his erstwhile opening partner, Shane Watson.
So long spurned as a Test batting option, Rogers has had to wait until the shadows of his 36th birthday for a genuine chance, and by playing so confidently in Manchester and now so doggedly in Durham he has taken it grandly. Only one Australian, Arthur Richardson, has been older at the time of his maiden century. Rogers himself seemed to age another few years as he spent 19 nervous balls on 96, but he summoned a sweep to go to 100. A few moments later the umpires ended play for bad light, leaving Australia to dream of building a significant advantage on Sunday.
Umpire's call, decision overturned
- Wise calls of the day
Twice Alastair Cook was pressed by his bowlers to ask for lbw reviews that they were convinced were out. Twice Cook declined to give in to them - wisely. On the first occasion, Shane Watson lunged forward to defend off Stuart Broad, and the bowler seemed certain the ball had flicked the pad on the way through to the bat. Replays showed it was a perfect forward defence with no hint of pad. Smiles went through the England cordon when the big screen revealed Broad's misjudgement. Later, Jonathan Trott rapped Chris Rogers on the pads with his part-time medium offerings and wanted a review. You didn't have to be a trained lip-reader to understand Trott's words to Cook: "Definitely pitched in line." Replays showed the ball had pitched well outside leg.
Decision of the day
It says much about umpire Tony Hill's decision-making in this series that he was at the centre of yet more DRS intrigue. Here Hill gave Rogers out to a catch behind the wicket off the bowling of Broad when the batsman was on 20 only for Rogers to utilise a review. That review showed that Rogers had not hit the ball but suggested that the ball would have hit the stumps in the margin of 'umpire's call'. As a result England celebrated, thinking that the 'umpire's call' verdict covered any appeal off the delivery and not specifically the decision about the catch. But Aleem Dar, the other on-field umpire, stepped in to clarify that Rogers should be given not out as Hill's original decision had not applied to an lbw appeal. It was a circuitous route to making the correct decision.
Drop of the day
Maybe it was fitting that Rogers should bring up his half-century with an edge to slip that was dropped and ran away for a single. Rogers' innings, much like Cook's the day before, had been torturous. But despite playing and missing often, Roger continued to battle and provided just the contribution Australia required to keep them in the game. The edge, off the bowling of the deserving Broad, was dropped by Graeme Swann, diving low to his right and coming close to taking an outstanding catch at second slip. But, had Swann left the ball, it may well have carried to Cook at first slip and would have reduced Australia to 89 for 5.
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Separated as opening batsmen, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson were reunited as Australia's last real hope of a significant first-innings tally on the second afternoon of the fourth Test in Durham. By tea they had added 72 to lift the tourists to 148 for 4 in conditions exceedingly helpful to England's seamers, surviving through a combination of grit and good fortune.
Stuart Broad rushed through Australia's top order before lunch, and when Tim Bresnan accounted for Steven Smith the afternoon seemed likely to follow a similar path. But Rogers and Watson demonstrated their comfort with batting in each other's company, even if neither looked entirely comfortable as the ball continued to swing and seam throughout the session.
A Rogers reprieve in complicated circumstances had also proven critical to proceedings. Australia were 34 for 2 when he was given out caught behind by Tony Hill. On Rogers' referral the ball was found to be missing the bat but clipping the top of the stumps on Hawk-Eye's projection. England's players assumed Rogers would remain out, but had to be reminded of the DRS regulations by the umpires.
Jackson Bird had plucked James Anderson's middle stump to end England's innings without addition to their overnight total. Both Bird and Peter Siddle found a little early movement in their two overs, something that encouraged Anderson even as he suffered the ignominy of being hit on the helmet and then bowled by Bird while not adding a run.
When England took to the field, it was immediately apparent that the ball would continue to deviate. Anderson bent the ball back towards Rogers' pads with some menace, but it was Broad who found the right combination of swing, seam and bounce to confound the top order. Returned to open, David Warner's lack of certainty about the location of his off stump was exposed by late movement, and he was bowled offering a shot so late it was almost retrospective.
Similarly, Usman Khawaja was unsure whether to play or leave, and was too late in withdrawing his bat from harm as a Broad delivery whizzed across him. It touched the toe of the bat, and Matt Prior held a catch more difficult than it appeared. Clarke and Rogers then showed a greater intent to score, though Broad continued to pose problems, even if he burned one decision review with an lbw appeal against Rogers that pitched outside leg stump.
It was with another ball moving back towards Rogers that the morning's most fevered moment arrived. The ball brushed the back pad on its way through to Prior, and England went up in appeal for a catch at the wicket. Hill raised his finger, and Rogers referred, shaking his head as he did so. The replays showed the ball had not hit the bat, but that it would have clipped the top of the stumps. Seeing this, England's players celebrated wildly, only to be told that because Hill's decision had been caught behind, the "umpire's call" nature of the lbw verdict reprieved Rogers.
Disbelief washed over English faces, while Alastair Cook engaged Hill in a lengthy discussion as the rest of his team pondered their knowledge of the laws. Yet again the vagaries of the DRS had become a central issue, overshadowing the quality of Broad's spell. Nonetheless, Rogers was playing as well as might be expected in the circumstances, and he would not be the next man to fall.
Clarke threw his hands unwisely at a ball moving away and bouncing, edging a sharp chance to Cook, who held it neatly above his head. If the shot was poor, it was still a just reward for Broad, who was then withdrawn from the attack after seven red-blooded overs that had reaped 3 for 23. Smith fought gamely to the interval, but was defeated soon after it, prodding forward to Bresnan and snicking behind.
At 76 for 4, Watson walked to the middle in the role he had been given on his debut as far back as 2005. He has shuffled through plenty of commissions since, and after a poor start to this series might have been pondering whether this would be the last. He began solidly, keeping out the lbw seekers arrowed towards his pads by Bresnan, Anderson and Broad, while at the same time rotating the strike better than he has sometimes managed.
He and Rogers both had extra lives, Bresnan dropping a difficult return catch from the allrounder and Graeme Swann turfing a one-handed slips chance from the opener, but they steadily wrested back some of England's earlier supremacy. Rogers was never wholly comfortable, living on his nerves and his top-order technique, but doing enough to mount the tally. By the interval his stand with Watson was the second highest of the match, and Australia breathed anew.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here