Chris Rogers’ maiden Test century at the age of almost 36 gave Australia a hard-earned advantage over England at Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
Rogers’ journeyman career first took him from his native Sydney to Western Australia, and has since included stints with four English counties.
There were some tortuous moments too in his 227-ball hundred on day two of this fourth Test, especially the 19 deliveries he spent on 96 against Graeme Swann before becoming the second-oldest Australian to hit his first Test century.
None of his compatriots were complaining as Rogers (101 not out) stood firm, initially against Stuart Broad (four for 48), and then shared a fifth-wicket stand of 129 with Shane Watson (68) out of 222 for five in reply to England’s 238 all out.
It was hard going at times after Broad saw off David Warner and Usman Khawaja with the score stuck on 12, and then added the prize scalp of Michael Clarke as Australia made a nightmare start.
Rogers was dropped by Swann at second slip off Broad for 49, but was admirably watchful throughout - bringing to bear all those years of experience in English cricket, including in Minor Counties with Shropshire for good measure - to cope in conditions beyond several of his teammates.
Before Saturday, he had made more runs against Australia than for them thanks to his double-century for a Leicestershire team containing a teenage Broad, who hosted the 2005 Ashes tourists.
But in his fifth Test, the left-handed opener buried that statistic and put the class of 2013 in position to sustain their fightback after dominating a rain-affected draw at Old Trafford, where they conceded the urn for a third successive time.
England 1st Innings (overnight: 238-9)
A Cook lbw b Bird 51
J Root c Haddin b Watson 16
J Trott c Khawaja b Lyon 49
K Pietersen c Haddin b Lyon 26
I Bell c Harris b Lyon 6
J Bairstow lbw b Lyon 14
M Prior lbw b Siddle 17
T Bresnan not out 12
S Broad c Warner b Harris 3
G Swann c Lyon b Harris 13
J Anderson b Bird 16
Extras (b5, lb1, w3, nb6) 15
Total (all out, 92 overs, 403 mins) 238
Fall of wickets 1-34 (Root), 2-107 (Trott), 3-149 (Pietersen), 4-153 (Cook), 5-155 (Bell), 6-189 (Prior), 7-193 (Bairstow), 8-198 (Broad), 9-214 (Swann), 10-238 (Anderson)
Bowling Harris 19-3-70-2 (5nb), Bird 22-9-58-2, Watson 13-6-21-1 (2w), Siddle 18-6-41-1 (1nb, 1w) Lyon 20-7-42-4
Australia 1st Innings
C Rogers not out 101
D Warner b Broad 3
U Khawaja c Prior b Broad 0
M Clarke c Cook b Broad 6
S Smith c Prior b Bresnan 17
S Watson c Prior b Broad 68
B Haddin not out 12
Extras (b2, lb11, nb2) 15
Total (5 wkts, 74.4 overs, 335 mins) 222
Fall of wickets 1-12 (Warner), 2-12 (Khawaja), 3-49 (Clarke), 4-76 (Smith), 5-205 (Watson)
To bat P Siddle, R Harris, J Bird, N Lyon
Bowling Anderson 20-7-54-0, Broad 20-6-48-4 (2nb), Bresnan 16.4-3-60-1, Swann 15-5-37-0, Trott 3-0-10-0
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