Middlesex opener Rogers savours second ton

Australian says he thrives under pressure

Middlesex batsman Chris Rogers says he thrives on pressure after a crucial century against Gloucestershire kept his side in a County Championship promotion place.

The Australian left-hander chalked up 148 to ensure that Middlesex avoided the follow-on at Uxbridge and thwarted Gloucestershire’s hopes of dislodging their hosts from second place in Division Two.

It was Rogers’ second ton in Middlesex colours – his first, a month earlier against Glamorgan, also came at a time when his team were on the back foot and they eventually suffered their only four-day defeat so far this summer.

But the drawn match at Uxbridge – where most of the second day was lost to rain – ensured that the county remain well-placed to achieve their primary goal of promotion to the top division.

“I don’t mind that situation, where you have to dig deep and fight hard,” said Rogers. “I think that brings out the best in me and gives me a bit of extra motivation.

“It probably holds me back and forces me not to play rash shots. The innings was a good one in that I felt quite solid and felt I was doing a pretty good job for the side, which is satisfying.

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“It was a bit disappointing that the match petered out into a draw, but we fought hard – it was massively important to get past the follow-on and that pretty much snuffed out any chance of them winning it.

“The season for us really revolves around being promoted in the four-day competition and doing well in the 40-over cup as well, so I’m looking forward to trying to prove my worth over the next few months.”

Gloucestershire gained the upper hand at Uxbridge when Ian Cockbain (127) and former England bowler Jon Lewis (71) added 97 for the eighth wicket to push their total to a commanding 459-9 declared.

Despite losing Andrew Strauss for just two, Middlesex appeared to be making steady progress in reply as they reached 253-4, with Sam Robson (38) and Neil Dexter (41) providing good support to Rogers.

But a middle-order slump left the home side in real danger of having to follow on and it was left to Rogers and No 10 Anthony Ireland (16) to edge them up to safety at 325 all out.

Gloucestershire made little attempt to force a result, reaching 229-8 in their second innings, which ended in farce as Strauss, Newman and Robson all came on to bowl.

Now Middlesex must forget about four-day cricket for the next fortnight as they complete their ill-fated t20 programme and then return to action in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition against Yorkshire.

The Panthers’ miserable t20 form continued over the weekend with defeats by both Hampshire Royals and Essex Eagles but, although they cannot qualify for the quarter-finals, they have four matches still to play.

“I think there will be opportunities for the younger guys in the t20 and they’ve got their careers to play for,” added Rogers, who was left out of the side for those two losses.

“If you want to be a professional cricketer, you have to grasp an opportunity every time you get one, so it’d be disappointing if guys weren’t going into it and giving everything.

“If they get outclassed because they’re a bit inexperienced so be it, but I’d be hoping for a lot of enthusiasm from the guys who play in those games and, if I play, I’ll be giving it everything I can.”

The Panthers return to Lord’s to face local rivals Surrey Lions on Thursday (6.15pm) and meet Somerset at the Walker Ground, Southgate, on Sunday (2.30pm).