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Ashes 2013: Chris Rogers survives broadside

Chris Rogers’s century, which he brought up with this sweep, helped Australia to within 16 runs off England’s 238. (Reuters)

Chris Rogers rode his luck before reaching a hard-earned maiden test century as Australia stayed in control of the fourth Ashes test on Saturday, despite a swing-bowling masterclass from Stuart Broad on day two.

Bad light brought an early end to an attritional day’s play at Chester-le-Street, but not before Rogers had progressed to 101 not out and Australia had moved to 222-5, just 16 runs behind England’s first-innings total.

Broad delivered a devastating display of pace bowling in overcast conditions, ripping through the top order to claim figures of 4/48. But try as he might, he couldn’t snare Rogers, despite another controversial DRS call when the opener was on 20 and a dropped catch by Graeme Swann on 49.

Shane Watson gave Rogers some valuable assistance, hitting 68 in a 129-run stand for the fifth wicket that helped the tourists wrest back command of a tight match after being reduced to 49-3 and then 76-4 in extremely tough batting conditions.

Brad Haddin was at the crease on 12 with Rogers before umpires called the players in for bad light, with 38 minutes still possible in the day. The ground in County Durham, hosting its first Ashes test, has no floodlights.

Rogers spent an agonizing 19 balls on 96, playing and missing a couple of times and finding fielders with his shots, before sweeping offspinner Swann for four to finally get to three figures.

It seemed to take him a while to really grasp the size of his achievement. When he did, he slowly took his helmet off and raised his bat to the crowd, with the Australian balcony celebrating. In radio interviews after stumps, Rogers was close to tears.

Back from the wilderness

It’s been a long road to becoming Australia’s second oldest player to hit a first Test hundred, after the 37-year-old Arthur Richardson in 1926 at Headingley. Now 35, Rogers was in the Test wilderness after being dropped after just one test, back in 2008 against India in Perth, and spent the next five years playing his trade, and plundering plenty of runs, on the county circuit in England and in Australian state cricket.

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