CHRIS Rogers has expressed his concern at the message cricket is sending by shutting the door on Ed Cowan, warning the dumped NSW opener could have been a more than handy Ashes back-up.
The poster boy for mature-aged Test batsmen admits he's confused by a system that demotes the best performed player in the competition, particularly on the eve of a massive Ashes series when it's riskier to completely write off the claims of an 18-Test veteran like Cowan.
Rogers was on Monday announced as Cricket Australia XI assistant for two of their three tour matches against England, where he will be in charge of mentoring some of the brightest young talents coming through the ranks.
However, the man who pulled off a remarkable Test renaissance aged 36 is a firm believer in never discounting anyone, warning that a "blind leading the blind" scenario can seep in if the game makes a habit of running experienced stars out of town.
Ultimately it was NSW's decision to axe reigning Steve Waugh medallist Cowan from its opening Sheffield Shield match on Friday - and likely the two fixtures to follow - although it's understood key figures in the Australian set-up may have had some input in the Blues electing to back 28-year-old Daniel Hughes.
Cowan, 35, will now likely play just two matches before the Big Bash kicks off, and therefore will see next to no cricket until February.
Rogers says that's a tough call to make on a professional who had been delivering runs, especially when a couple of early-season hundreds could have made him difficult to ignore if an Ashes spot came up for grabs.
"I feel for him because I felt like I was in a similar position a number of years ago where I was about to lose my Victorian contract and only got one because Ashton Agar left to go to WA. From then on in I managed to play another 24 Tests," Rogers told The Daily Telegraph.
"I don't think (Matt) Renshaw is in the best of form at the moment. Whether there's been a bit of a change in his game which can creep in, where he's just a bit short of confidence, or even if he is out of form ... if he struggles early then what are the options? Is it (Joe) Burns or Shaun Marsh, are they the sole options?
"I feel you can't discount anyone, that's my personal point of view.
"You're allowed to get better and better as you get older. The fact he scored the most amount of runs last year shows that he's getting better as a player.
"Personally, I find it confusing. How a guy who is trying to make a living and is the best performed player doesn't get picked is curious.
"I understand the bigger pressures and Australia only having six sides to pick from and therefore wanting to pick young players, but you have to be careful therefore that it's not blind leading the blind and there are enough hardened, seasoned players around to keep showing the way."
NSW coach Trent Johnston described it as the toughest decision of his coaching tenure.
Rogers is fresh from a coaching stint in UK county cricket and hopes to make a career in the Australian ranks.
The champion run-maker was to be part of Jason Gillespie's Australia A coaching staff, only for the July tour to be canned in the midst of the pay dispute.
"I hope (I can make an impact). It's interesting that a lot of the players that get selected for these sides haven't played that much cricket in many respects," he said.
"They've still got a lot to learn and not only having a long playing career, but now having some pretty decent coaching experience, albeit quite brief behind me, hopefully I can get in and help other guys in their own journeys.
"I'm really looking forward to it, I was absolutely gutted for the players when the tour to South Africa was cancelled. That was a real missed opportunity."
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