Opinion: Oz veterans' efforts go to waste

Australia

If I were Australia batsman Chris Rogers, or fast bowler Ryan Harris, I'd be giving my team mates the cold shoulder for the next few days, after the veterans' career-best efforts went down the drain in Durham.

If I were Australia batsman Chris Rogers, or fast bowler Ryan Harris, I'd be giving my team mates the cold shoulder for the next few days, after the veterans' career-best efforts went down the drain in Durham.

By tea on day four at the Riverside Ground, Australia were on 120 for one in their chase of 299 to win. Excitement was building, with Baggy Green fans getting hopeful that they would actually reach the 11th highest fourth innings chase.

But when the second wicket fell with the score on 147, Australia's middle order failed to capitalise on the start, and they ended up losing nine wickets in one session and going down by 74 runs.

Harris was the primary reason the target was below 300, having taken seven wickets in the second innings, including four of the five wickets to fall in the morning on Monday. He ended the knock with seven for 117, his best Test innings figures.

The 33-year-old (almost 34, really) made his debut in 2010, but has only played 15 Tests since then, thanks to his chronic knee problems and a broken ankle along the way. He finally played three games in a row in this series, and was excellent in all three.

So now, just as he's moved up the Test rankings to number seven, and found his rhythm, the batting line up went and utterly devalued his tenacity. He sent down 47 overs in Durham, the most he'd ever done, rivaling Peter Siddle's effort against South Africa last year.

As a result of this gritty performance, Harris kind of shot himself in the knee. The selectors are considering resting him for the final Test at The Oval where, just as luck would have it, Siddle will take all 20 wickets in an Aussie win.

One batsman who didn't let the side down was Rogers, whose maiden Test century in the first innings ensured the Australians had a lead, albeit a slender one. He then added 49 in the second innings, laying a solid century-stand foundation with David Warner.

Rogers made his debut for Oz in 2008, and then had to wait till this series to play another Test, at the age of 35. With his wire-rimmed glasses, disgusting lucky arm guard, and white lip sunscreen, he has become a sentimental favourite, and even England fans cheered his century.

In this series he has a ton and two half centuries, and only England's Ian Bell has been more consistent (three tons and two fifties). Rogers' first Test ton was his 61st in First Class cricket, and he won't be blamed for wishing it had counted towards a win.

The frustration these two players must feel is not something they'll admit to. Both are humble and quiet, with Rogers almost Hashim Amla-like in temperament, but it should irk them that Broad's seven wickets and the Aussies' dire batting have stolen their headlines.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

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