The former Australian opener gives all credit to Stokes for a brilliant innings
One man closely following the dramatic fourth day of fortune swings and eventual English glory at Leeds, was former Australian opener Chris Rogers.
Here, visiting the MRF Pace Foundation with the Australian Academy team, the 41-year-old Rogers who has 2015 runs in 25 Tests at 42.87 — he got his opportunities late — felt there was a need for more decision reviews in Test cricket.
He was referring to replays showing England’s Ben Stokes clearly trapped leg-before by off-spinning ace Nathan Lyon.
However, the Australians, having run out of reviews by then, were able to do little about the flawed decision. Had a review been available, the pulse-pounding third Test would have ended right at that point, in the visitors’ favour.
Rogers said to The Hindu on Monday, “There should be more reviews available to both sides. The umpires are human, they will make mistakes. But matches and series are on the line, and careers are at stake. You need to get every decision right. I don’t see any harm in having more reviews.”
Yet, what about the review that the Aussies got so horribly wrong when the ball cleared pitched outside Jack Leach’s leg-stump?
Pressure all around
Rogers, known for his tight batting, noted, “Yes, the Aussies got it wrong and they accepted it. It happens in such a tense close game where the crowd is screaming and there is pressure all around. You do make mistakes.”
Australia could have sealed the Ashes in those mind-boggling final moments. For instance, Lyon fluffed collecting a throw with Leach yards out the crease. Rogers responded, “I know Lyon well, played with him, and I can realise how he will be feeling right now. He is a great competitor. If he can make such an error, you can imagine the pressure he must have been under.”
The genial Rogers gave credit to Stokes for his sensational batting. But he acknowledged Australia could have had a different game-plan.
“Stokes batted brilliantly. You cannot take that away from him. Could we have done things differently? Looking back is always the easier option. Perhaps you could have brought the field up for Stokes and denied him those easy singles, made Leach face more of the bowling. But in the heat of the battle it is hard to make such decisions,” he observed.
England has received a huge mental boost following the believe-it-or-not win at Leeds. How does Rogers see the series developing from here. Can the Aussies bounce back in the last two Tests?
Rogers noted, “You can talk about momentum. But Australia will get back its best batsman Steve Smith for the next game. Don’t ask me who they will leave out. That’s a difficult call. Smith’s return will make a difference.
The confident Rogers weighed in. “Australia can still retain the Ashes. They have been the better of the two sides in the first three Tests and were only undone by Stokes’ brilliance at Leeds. I think Australia will come back strongly. This side has the character to do that.”
A battler at the top of the order, Rogers has faith in this Australian side.