I am not sure why, but every time I see Chris Rogers open the batting for Australia or see him diving in the field, I remember the boxer Johnny Owen.
I have been thinking about this connection since Chris returned to the Australian team for the 2013 Ashes Series in England. The blow he received in the first innings of the Fourth Test in the 2013-2014 Series added to my association of the two athletes.
Back in 1980, I listened to an interview with Johnny Owen in his home town of Merthyr Tydfil. He spoke about why he became a professional boxer and the risks he faced as a boxer. I remember discussing the interview with my students at St Mary’s College and trying to explain why I thought it was so powerful.
I learned from Johnny the importance of standing your ground often against enormous odds. You can read about his final fight here.
Chris gives me that feeling too. I admire his tenacity and modesty. I thought this report caught both characteristics:
Chris Rogers survived a “scare” on Friday when a Stuart Broad thunderbolt hit him flush on the helmet.Forgetting the animosity that has plagued the series, Broad and bat-pad Joe Root quickly came to the Aussie opener’s aid as he slumped to his haunches while on 16. The game was delayed for five minutes while a trickle of blood from the top of Rogers’ right cheek was bandaged and he regained his composure.
“It’s not too bad – it was a bit of a scare, but it’s OK. The helmet did its job,” Rogers said.
“(The Englishmen) were pretty good actually – a tap on the arse and asking if I was all right.
“I don’t tend to sledge much, so maybe it’s just not coming back around my way.
“But … whenever you see someone get hit in the helmet, it’s generally quite serious, so I think sportsmanship is still alive and well.”
Rogers said he didn’t lose the 145km/h thunderbolt, but had simply “misjudged” it.
“He’s bowling quite quick, there, it can happen. He’s a tall guy and if you slightly misjudge it, you’ve only got fractions of a second.”
I used Wikipedia as a starting point for these articles. It was interesting to note that thirty-three yeas on, this is the recent history of Johnny Owen page views:
… and this for Chris’s page, with spikes for each Test Match: