Anyone who says ‘I like to be a role model and not a leader’, is certainly a great asset to a team, and this is a line, almost a mantra Alex Rogers repeated throughout our interview. Clearly she always wants what is best for Carlton-Brunswick.
Though it is becoming more common for English county players to spend a season in Australia, few have done so with such regularity as former Berkshire player Rogers. For 25 year-old all-rounder Rogers this is her fourth Australian summer, though her first in Melbourne after spending past seasons playing for South Perth. This year she has played a major role in Carlton-Brunswick’s Premier Seconds debut and still has a lot to give in a summer she hopes will finish with the Strikers being named Premier Seconds One-day champions.
Some people may ask why move cities when you’ve enjoyed three years at a club, made best friends and had success with your cricket? After meeting Alex, it became clear she was ready for a new challenge and wants to help Carlton-Brunswick in their first season in Premier Twos and build for the future.
Rogers’ high score this summer is an unbeaten 83 against Ringwood, in a match abandoned due to heavy rain and hail - and in case this was not enough, there was thunder rumbling in the distance. Perhaps this is why Alex batted so well, in conditions just like home. Surprisingly thunderstorms was one of the aspects of Perth she loved, alongside exploring and nature. So anybody bowling to Rogers had better be wary if there is thunder around! In the semi-final against Melton, thunder could be heard when the Strikers were bowling, so perhaps nature was on their side.
Having scored 340 runs at 48.57 in the one-day competition and 378 at 75.60 in the T20 format, her season’s tally before the Grand Final comes to an impressive 718. Aside from hard work and regular training, Rogers puts some of her success down to her sponsor – SM. ‘The quality of the gear is so high. It’s the best bat I’ve ever had and the longest lasting. I can’t thank them enough for the sponsorship and it does actually give me more opportunities to play the game I love.’
Another strong facet of her game is the fast-medium bowling which has delivered the nickname ‘Rhino’ as she charges in to bowl with her white-line-fever. Her best return this season is 3-19 in a T20 against Essendon Maribyrnong Park.
I caught up with Alex to find out how she is enjoying her time in Melbourne and at Carlton-Brunswick.
What made you decide to come to Melbourne and play for Carlton-Brunswick?
I’ve played in Perth for three years so I knew I loved playing in Australia. I think for me Australia is better than England in terms of cricket because you train more. My brother played last year at Brunswick, and he was talking to the coach Karl who sent me an email asking how would I feel about coming over, coaching and playing? It’s a great opportunity, I’d never been to Melbourne before. I looked up the team sounded great. It was all about a new experience and I’m happy I did it.
What do you enjoy about being in Melbourne?
I love how busy it is. I kind of get the calmness on weekdays and then at weekends it’s busy because I’m seeing everyone and doing everything. I have the best social life in the world. Everyone goes out of their way to see each other. We’re a team, we’re a family. We do almost everything as a team. After a game on Sunday we either go out for food or we come back here [coach’s house where she is staying] for a BBQ. After training on Wednesday, we go to a pub quiz - we never win, but we try. We’re there. The whole thing, it’s focussed about being a team, it’s not just about the cricket but the background as well. It’s great.
Aside from the strong social-side of Carlton-Brunswick, what is the best aspect of the club?
One thing they do really well is giving everyone a go. In our First XI we have quite a few 15-year-olds. We have girls who are 20, even our captain for T20 is 21. We’d have a game and our captain would actually discuss which players should come up. All the younger ones were given a go at number five to give them an opportunity and we’ve seen them succeed. Whereas in England, you often have your set place and you don’t really move from it. We gave players opportunities in our T20 against Napoleons/Sebastopol. Brighde [McGrath] and Ella [Baulch] opened and both got high scores [42 and 63 not out], and Legs [Leggieri] went in and also got a good score . I think that shows the perfect system really.
What’s it been like being in a new club in Premier Twos?
All the girls are taking it in their stride. Nobody’s come into this without wanting to win. They’re all extremely determined which I think is great. I arrived after the first game but it was rained off. I met all the girls and we went straight to a net session. They all really wanted to be there and I think the guys’ teams have really taken us onboard and helped us out. We’re in such a good position, that we’re so determined and talented and have such a young team and at the moment, ones, twos and U13s. We are such a young team of people who are most certainly good enough to play Premier Ones in the future. I think people are proving it and nobody’s scared to prove it. People train hard because they know what we can achieve. We want to win Premier Twos. The background is there for us, Rob [the co-ordinator] who works tirelessly for us. He talks cricket every day, it’s always about the women. What can we do to improve for next year? Chris is the scorer and she loves it. There are just so many people not just on the pitch but off it who make it so easy to transition into Premier Twos.
What’s the biggest challenge being in Melbourne?
I do miss my family, definitely. But I have one brother over here and my twin brother was out for two weeks. I talk to my parents a lot. I’ve kind of got used to it after three seasons in Perth. I love Australia so I think my parents are used to the fact that this is where I want to be, and I’m used to the fact that this is where I want to be, so it’s not the worst thing to be away from family. One of the hardest things is you can’t be paid to come out here. I had to save up money and hope I could get through. In terms of cricket sometimes I feel there’s a lot of pressure to get runs and wickets, I’ve been brought over to do that. I want to coach the girls to success and things. There’s always something in the back of your mind – if I don’t do well, what’s going to happen? How will they look at you? Luckily I’ve done okay. But when it came to the T20 final and we lost and I didn’t do anything, that’s the sort of thing I worry about.
How do you see your role in the team?
As a role model, with the captains – Ash [Ashley Angus one-day captain] and Addy [Adelaide Campion T20 captain] and probably Leanne Leggieri. Legs and I are the most experienced. If we’re on the pitch and there’s a field or bowling change we think of, then we’ll have a chat. It’s our job to help out, we’re not just here to play for ourselves, we’re here to play for the team.
What are some of the differences between Australian and English club cricket?
I prefer cricket in Melbourne. One of the biggest differences is training. We train two days a week, every week in Australia. When I was in Perth, I trained two days a week with South Perth and then two or three days a week with the Western Fury [WA’s State side]. I learnt so much from them, fitness training etc. Brighde, Ella and I do a fitness regime. So people really want to improve and cover all aspects of their game. People go for throw-downs and it’s just unheard-of back home. I think it’s more professional. Here you are expected to train twice a week, turn up to games an hour early. I think that’s why I do so well out here. Every Thursday we train with the boys at Brunswick and on Wednesday when we can we train at Carlton’s ground. A few of the boys come down on Wednesday and go out of their way to coach us. It’s a completely different atmosphere.
Another good thing about playing in this competition, is you can play with 12. Even though they can’t bat, they can get a bowl and field. Whereas in England if you’re 12th, you wait to run drinks on and see if you’re needed as a substitute fielder. The Australian system gives everyone an opportunity and means if you’re 12th you’re not just standing there. As 12th, you want to play.
Personal and club aims for remainder of the season?
Winning the title, definitely. I would like to get my maiden Australian hundred. My aim was to hit my 700th run, which I was pleased to achieve in the semi-final [scored 83 and now has a run tally of 718]. This is the biggest season I think I’ve ever had - my previous best was 400-odd.
Would you recommend a season with Carlton-Brunswick to fellow Berkshire players?
Yes, I would most definitely. Especially if they got in to Premier Ones. I think everything you get out of playing in Australia is positive, you play, you hang out with your friends and you have fun. You play a game that you love and you have opportunities to improve other people and yourself. Anyone at Berkshire would thrive over here.
What does the future hold for Alex?
Someone who has clearly fallen for Australia, she will return to Blighty in April to organise things with the aim of moving to Melbourne permanently. For all those Strikers fans, yes she will return next year and would love that to be in Premier Firsts. But if not, Carlton-Brunswick will be looking to win both the T20 and one-day titles. Judging by their successful season, that is certainly an achievable target. If Alex is awarded permanent residency, she would love to play in the Women’s Big Bash League.
Written by Georgia Isaac