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Rogers ton keeps Australia in front

Australia ends second day on 222 for 5, just 16 behind England’s first-innings total

Rogers ton keeps Australia in front
 - Cricket News
Chris Rogers scored his maiden Test century to give Australia the advantage at the end of Day 2.
Chris Rogers was utterly outclassed by the bowling of Stuart Broad for long periods of the second day’s play in the fourth Ashes Test on Saturday (August 10) in Durham. Yet, at the end of the day, Rogers was 101 not out, his first Test century – at 35, the second-oldest ever to reach the landmark – and Australia was in command of the match, trailing by 16 runs with five first-innings wickets intact. 
 
Though Rogers displayed no little skill, his innings was, primarily, a masterclass in perseverance. Anything too good to hit, he missed, anything hittable he hit, and in between, he played late and kept the score moving as much as possible. Facing 20 balls with his score on 96, all bowled by Graeme Swann, he almost chipped to mid-on and almost edged on to his stumps, before a pull for four did the necessary. He marked the occasion simply, with a breath and a pause.
 
Trudging out at the start of the day, Tim Bresnan and James Anderson did not look particularly keen to linger, and they did not. In the second over, Anderson missed with an expansive drive at Jackson Bird, then ducked into a low-bouncing bouncer and missed with two swings, the ball nipping past the second to hit the stumps, wicket tossed before the better-qualified Bresnan could attempt some runs.
 
However, a total of 238 was not quite as miserable as it seemed. The slow pitch, grassy outfield and long boundaries conspired to make scoring even more difficult than was dictated by disciplined bowling and wretched batting. And with the cloud-cover encroaching, atmosphere intensifying and the crowd leaning in, Anderson and Broad began with bad intentions.
 
The batsmen appeared to settle in the fourth over, Broad’s second, adding eight runs and two byes from the first five balls – but the line and length, though hittable if of gambler’s bent, was still good. Then, the final delivery bounced and seamed – not a lot, but enough – and by the time David Warner appraised his urgent need to play, he was too high in his stance to intercede between it and his off-bail. Australia were 12 for 1.
 
And Broad was back at it in his next over, Usman Khawaja unsure whether or not to play one that slanted and seamed across him. Eventually, he determined to ignore, by which time the ball was licking his under-edge and proceeding into Matt Prior’s hands. Broad chased off doing aeroplanes, until, eventually, Tony Hill presented the finger.
 
This brought Michael Clarke to the wicket, again at No. 4, but with Rogers on strike. Again, he did not mess around, prepared to go hard at the ball. But at the other end, Broad was deep inside a Broad burst, and Clarke fluttered at him dangerously, bat away from his body and edging just past the stumps.
 
So off he set again in undulating bound, beating Rogers off the pitch to pound his pad adjacent to the stumps. Responding with agitated semaphore, Broad failed to cajole Hill’s finger into action, and a review showed the ball pitching piddlingly outside the line.
 
After Rogers waved his bat to sneak four more from the next delivery, confusion. Broad seamed another away from him that wriggled between bat and pad into Prior’s gloves. England appealed, Hill concurred and Rogers reviewed. A replay showed that the ball had hit his back leg alone, with no edge; not out.
 
Not so fast. Hill had ruled only on a caught behind, so Marais Erasmus, the third umpire, then checked for lbw, discovering an umpire’s call – a decision that Hill had effectively made already, the edge he thought he’d seen precluding an lbw verdict. Had the ball been hitting enough of the stumps to be out, Rogers would’ve been out, as one appeal covers all potential forms of dismissal, but instead, he survived. There followed brief consternation.
 
But Broad kept at it, ragging Clarke into a swishing back-garden hack on the up, looking to hit over the house and into the road. Instead, he edged hard and fast, Alastair Cook thrusting up the jazz hands and lowering them to discover a cricket ball therein. Australia’s captain was gone for six, the score 49 for 3.
 
In the time left before lunch, Rogers and Steven Smith sensibly scored whenever possible, but early in the afternoon, Bresnan angled one outside off-stump. Smith leant into a forward jab and his outside-edge redirected the ball into Prior’s gloves.
 
Shane Watson, back at No. 6, arrived at the crease, but after 23 overs. He started quietly, while Rogers continued to fruitlessly flap as Broad dressed him up outside off-stump. And yet he soon reached 50, simultaneously one of the flakiest and least flakey innings of all-time.
 
Inspired, Watson was soon at the same, flouncing outside off-stump before connecting with a drive on the up, his score just five at the time. In the midst of his follow-through, Bresnan snapped out an arm, but off-balance, couldn’t quite grasp the ball.
 
Back at the other end, Broad was still rinsing them past Rogers with an ease that was almost amusing – with all the talk about tape, has anyone checked for repelling magnets? After one particularly grotesque miss, he stomped to square-leg to reason with himself before an attempted drive turned into an outside-edge – Cook already poised low at first slip, the ball headed directly to him – until Swann dived across and spilled the chance. Rogers had made 49 at the time.
 
As Broad and ball tired, Australia assumed the ascendancy; England could not replicate the pressure exerted by an attack with five performing members. Watson and Rogers began to find gaps for singles, beating bad balls to the boundary or close by. Rogers might have relaxed after safely negotiating a Swann full-bunger, sent hurtling to the boundary and taking him to 96, and while the ground focused on his impending ton, Broad reappeared to increase trepidation. After five dot-balls in and around off-stump, he strayed to the legside, tempting Watson to follow it and asphyxiate himself, edging behind for 68. His partnership with Rogers was worth 129.
 
Bad light brought a premature end to another consuming day, but Australia, and Rogers, was well-placed to make England suffer on the third day.

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