Bucking The Trend

Published: 2016
Pages: 323
Author: Rogers, Chris and Brettig, Daniel
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books
Rating: 4 stars

The Ashes is still the most important cricket battle to any Australian. So if you are going to have a short Test career of just 25 Tests, then the period that Chris Rogers played in, between 2013 and 2015,would be perfect. There were three Ashes series, the most played since the 1880s. What’s more Rogers was one of his countries best during the 15 Ashes Tests, averaging 48.52.

The story of how Rogers made it to the top of Australian cricket when most players are considering retirement is told in Bucking The Trend. The book follows Rogers’ career from a precocious little red head, who loved tennis and cricket, to the number one batsman in the Australian team in his last Ashes series.

The chapters in Bucking The Trend are set out differently to the average cricket book. Each begins with a brief summary of the contents by Brettig, which usually runs to two or three pages and often features interviews with Rogers’ contemporaries. It can be tough to summarise, for example, a few Test series in a couple of pages. As Mark Twain famously said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”, however Brettig does a wonderful job and the reader will find themselves wanting more from Brettig*.

After Brettig, Rogers writing in the first person provides great insight into the fishbowl existence of a Test player and the insecurity of an older cricketer playing at the top level. It appears that Rogers worried about everything that might impact on his place in the team; a low score; an injury; change of coach and even the form of other players.

Some of Rogers’ anxiety appears to have stemmed from his experiences coming through the cricket ranks and his almost outcast status. At under 19 level we learn that a teammate made Rogers sleep in the corridor and when someone expressed concern the response from the teammate was ‘Don’t fucking worry about him’. When Rogers first made the West Australian team a senior player responded ‘don’t you ever fucking stand next to me in a pub again’, when a young Rogers was ordering a drink at the bar.

Unfortunately Rogers’ is too much of a gentleman to provide the names of the offenders in the above stories, although they do help to possibly explain why Rogers didn’t establish himself in the Australian team until well past 30.

Rogers takes the reader into the dressing rooms of the Australian team and introduces us to many of the players including Michael Clarke, who he rates highly, and David Warner whom it seems can become a bit caustic with his teammates, especially when waiting to bat. It seems the outgoing Rogers was assigned the job of taking on the Warner banter to save the rest of the team from angst.

By the end of Bucking The Trend the reader has a great understanding of Chris Rogers and what it’s like to play cricket at the highest level. The reader will also know the mental battle involved to maintain a place in the Australian cricket team. This is the best cricket biography the Mac has read this year and is a must read for all cricket fans.

*There is more on the period from Brettig in Whitewash to Whitewash.

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