London: One man is 37 and he has already declared that this will be the last set of Tests he will be playing. The other is twenty six, just about making his reputation as one of the best young batsmen of his generation. The former is an organised, serene batsman with immense first-class experience who waited a very long time for a run in the side, and the latter is a bundle of energy that came in to the team as a part-time leg-spinner that kept the mood light in the dressing room with his jokes. But Chris Rogers and Steve Smith, difference in age and skill notwithstanding, pummeled England in to submission on a benign Lord’s pitch.
Chris Rogers in full flight yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
If Rogers is the wise old tortoise, Smith is the caffeine-addled hare bouncing off the walls, and both of them recorded their highest ever personal best scores on Day Two of the second Ashes Test.
Rogers with a combination of deft late cuts and cover drives, preferring the offside, stroked his way to 173 while Smith treated both sides of the wicket equally on his way to become the first Australian batsman since Jason Gillespie to score a double hundred away from home with his 215.
Coming to the ‘Home of Cricket’, one down in the series, Australia were looking for their batting mainstays to make their starts count, and the contrasting duo of Rogers and Smith duly obliged.
Rogers with years of experience and knowledge accumulated over his Middlesex career, knew the behaviour of the wicket like the back of his hand. Smith, in the midst of purplest of purple patches, sliced through the English bowlers, initially curtailing his aggressive intent, and later on unfurling gorgeous drives and flicks, cuts and glances, to ensure the advantage of winning the toss on a batsman-friendly wicket wasn’t wasted.
Both batsmen enjoyed slices of luck. Rogers’ attempted drive flew over the slip cordon early in his innings, and Smith was dropped by Ian Bell at second slip after passing 50. Rogers had equalled the record in the previous Test of most number of consecutive Tests with 50+ scores but it hid the fact that he hadn’t converted his 50’s in to match turning hundreds. Here, he slowed down as he was approaching the century while the brash youthful aggression of Smith switched gears and went past his senior partner to the three figure mark.
After reaching the personal milestone, Rogers wound the clock back and sped past his younger comrade. The tortoise and hare were involved in a race of their own, while the English team were made to mere spectators.