Chris Rogers plays to his strengths

Chris Rogers is not the type of batsman who could ever win a game in a session, but he is - despite Australia's abrupt end in the second Test against South Africa - nearly peerless as someone who will prevent his team from losing it in the same period.

Amid the turmoil that was Australia's capitulation in Port Elizabeth, the unflappable left-hander was conspicuously immovable for the Dale Steyn-led attack that was producing lethal reverse swing.

Even when he did finally depart, as the ninth wicket for 107, he was trying - and failing - to take on the throwing arm of substitute fielder Alviro Petersen, because he wanted to shield his tailender partner from Vernon Philander.

Simply, the 36-year-old boasts an underrated skill: knowing when to attack and when to retreat. It was why he was prepared to hook Steyn almost over the square-leg boundary in the 24th over of the innings, but knew by the start of the last session, survival had to be his top priority as reverse swing began to emerge.

''You have to read the situation and play to your limitations as well,'' said Rogers, in the aftermath of Australia's 231-run defeat. ''Once it starts reversing, committing to big drives is probably out of the question. It almost becomes like French cricket, just trying to defend as hard as you can. I think it's one of my skills. I can't hit the ball as well as Davey [Warner] and a lot of the other guys can, so there's other things I have to do better. Probably using my head and working out how my innings needs to be played [is a strength].''

Since Rogers was plucked from the international wilderness for last year's winter Ashes series, he has faced at least 100 balls in almost half of his Test innings, 11 of 23. That tally is more than double the next best result for Australia: five by his opening partner Warner and also Steve Smith.

While Rogers has emphatically quarantined himself from discussions about changes to the Australian team for the series-ending Test in Cape Town starting on Saturday, he said he had most certainly been feeling the strain of maintaining his place.

His first three innings in the series produced only 10 runs and involved him facing a total of 35 balls. That he did not deserve to be dropped because he had finished the home summer with two centuries could have been trumped by the expected availability of Shane Watson.

''I'm not stupid. I knew full well that I was under pressure. You can't perform the way I had for Australia … I knew I was under pressure and that Shane was a good chance to play,'' Rogers said.

''This was always going to be a big tour for the side and for me personally. I've been trying hard.

''Maybe I've been trying too hard. So I probably just thought it's time to stop worrying and just play, and maybe that helped a little bit in this innings.''

While the emotional significance of playing in two Ashes series was massive, Rogers agreed the challenge of a series-deciding Test away to the world's top-ranked team had claims to be the professional peak of his 16-year career.

''It's been like that for the last six months. Every challenge is bigger and better and this attack … is just amazing to play against,'' he said. ''The challenge that each of the bowlers bring to the table is different, and that makes for great batting. It's going to be a massive game for everyone and to [perform] well personally would be very satisfying.''

This story Chris Rogers plays to his strengths first appeared on WA Today.