Ollie Robinson is the interesting one, isn’t he?

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Test cricket is back. Even if it’s a last minute two-Test series that even the boards who arranged it seem a bit nonplussed about, Test cricket is a wonderful and important thing – and never more so than to those who are making their debuts.

The general astonishment that England have managed to get so far down their long list of wicketkeepers that James Bracey is actually going to play a game for them diminishes the significance of his debut a touch. We’re interested to see what nickname he earns (the smart money’s on ‘Brace’) but the real point of interest in this New Zealand series is surely Ollie Robinson.

Robinson’s story probably already qualifies as ‘frequently repeated’. He is from a cricket family. His dad played for England over-50s, his mum has sufficient expertise to be nicknamed Richie Benaud and his mum’s husband is Paul Farbrace, who you no doubt recall from the putting together of a World Cup winning England team and also various post-play interviews after England Test batting collapses.

Because of Farbrace (and also because he was good at cricket), Robinson wound up at Yorkshire as a teenager. After much overnight driving to Kent to see his friends, he got sacked. Then he went out a lot for a few months. Then he got bored. Then he hired out a leisure centre and practised with his dad. Then he became the best tall seam bowler in county cricket.

We’ve kind of whistled through a bit of that being as he’s 27 now. But that’s the gist. Like Haseeb Hameed, he’s bounced back.

Robinson is an exciting prospect for an England fan for several reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, there is his first-class record, which is nuts: 279 wickets at 21.04 – and that average still seems to be coming down.

Then there is how he goes about taking those wickets. Robinson is famously not averse to revision. Jason Gillespie, his former Sussex coach – and a man who knows plenty about the taking of wickets – calls him, “comfortably the most researched fast bowler I have come across.”

He’s also 6ft 5in. That’s not freakish for a quick bowler, but it definitely puts him in ‘tall bowler’ territory and that’s a type of bowler teams generally want. (New Zealand will have the even-more-sizeable Kyle Jamieson in their team.)

England are freely admitting to Ashes monomania already, so they’ll see Robinson’s as a highly significant debut because increasing the height of the bowling attack is always a priority ahead of any tour Down Under.

In 2010-11, they took a wicket-taking Steven Finn and an in-form Chris Tremlett and both were fantastic. In 2013-14, they took a Steven Finn they no longer really trusted, a post back surgery Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin.

The first warm-up match that tour was billed as a bowl-off between the three. In the first innings they managed 0-88 (Tremlett), 1-92 (Rankin) and 1-123 (Finn) and they all went at over four an over (Finn went at over five).

Tremlett took 1-35 in the second innings and 0-23 in the next tour match and this was enough to earn him selection for the first Test.

Now a great many things didn’t go brilliantly in that series but the absence of a viable tall seamer did contribute to Australia setting England over 500 to win in each of the first three Tests. So let’s see how Robinson fares. There’s also the small matter of all these other Test matches to try and win in the meantime.

15 comments

    1. Lets hope he uses his superior position in the team to produce some elite annoyingness.

  1. Are they actually going to be wearing kit with the word ‘cinch’ (“the UK’s fastest-growing online used car marketplace”) in big letters on it for a Test match?

    1. It is much better being ‘cinch’ than it is being KC’s podcast app of ‘Whooshkaa’ in my opinion.

  2. On other news, ICC today have announced the below, which IMHHO is actually quite a good development.

    The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup will become a 14 team, 54 match event in 2027 and 2031, whilst the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will be expanded to a 20 team, 55 match event in 2024, 2026, 2028 and 2030. An eight team Champions Trophy will be hosted in 2025 and 2029. ICC World Test Championship Finals will be hosted in 2025, 2027, 2029 and 2031.

    1. I’m not sure I feel the same way. It means that between 2024 and 2031 there won’t be a year without a major ICC limited-overs event, and increasingly long and convoluted ones at that – plus the World Test Championship, Ashes etc. It will make packed years like this one essentially the norm.

      Clearly they haven’t been reading this website:

      https://www.kingcricket.co.uk/why-it-is-only-now-dawning-on-england-fans-that-their-team-plays-way-too-many-games/2021/03/10/

  3. It is quite unedifying to hear Broad state he wants to play all seven Tests, this after two Tests without a solitary wicket. The perception from outside is that Broad and Anderson exert too much influence on the team and its selection policies. This must make it very hard for any bowler brought into the squad, as their figures (and ego) surely hamper the team spirit essential for sustained success. Robinson deserves a go in the Test team, as does Overton. However, the continued ‘me me me’ approach of the big two is hampering team development, as it means that the team is unbalanced. By that I mean that if you pick both Anderson and Broad (genuine number 11s these days) you have to pick a bowler who can bat at 8 (Woakes). Otherwise, if you want a spinner and a speedster, you have the likes of Archer or Wood at eight. Yes, their figures suggest they should still be in the team, but why do we presume that no one else could achieve their stats in the short-term, especially if given the new ball.

    1. The fact is that as long as Anderson and Broad remains in England’s ‘nominal first XI’ then this will happen. Yes, Overton and Robinson may deserve a go in the Test team but are they better than Anderson or Broad? I would say no, although I do think Robinson has the potential for a good Test career.

    2. Also, Broad’s batting has been gradually improving in the last couple of years. He is still nowhere near his pre-2014 levels but the useful cameos have become more and more regular.

    1. Absolute madness. And a pretty long tail for England as well, need some wickets sharpish or could be a long few days ahead.

    2. I fully agree that England should have picked Leach but I’m not sure that picking a spinner would have made that much of a difference. New Zealand have a very, very good batting lineup because they bat down to No9 and all of the top 6 would be in top 20 Test batsmen (Conway hasn’t had enough time to prove this yet but he has made a very good start to his Test career).

  4. If anyone wants some more cricket after the BBC highlights tonight, the conclusion of the Ireland-Netherlands ODI today – part of their world cup qualifying race, so higher stakes than it sounds – ended up very tight. Well worth watching the last few overs. Or at least the first 3 balls of the 38th over, which begins here at https://youtu.be/OPxPISTaoDU?t=23119 but you might as well stay about to the end after that for the twists and turns. (Peter Borren and Niall O’Brien on commentary duty – love Peter Borren’s Kiwi-with-a-hint-of-Dutch accent!)

  5. I’m wondering how anyone manages to get to any kind of sporting or entertainment level of prominence without someone suggesting that perhaps it would be smart to sanitize/delete their twitter before it bites them in the arse.

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