The independent voice of cricket

Ashes 2023

Ollie Robinson: We were surprised by how unwilling Australia were to go toe-to-toe with us

Ollie Robinson celebrates the wicket of Cameron Green
Ollie Robinson by Ollie Robinson 4 minute read

Ollie Robinson, in his first Wisden.com column, shares his views on the Edgbaston Test, Australia’s approach, becoming public enemy number one Down Under and tells us about England’s mindset going into Lord’s.

What a game. People will remember Edgbaston ’23 for a very long time. Obviously it was gutting to come out on the losing side. Trust me, I hate losing. That night in the dressing room I sat for five full minutes with my cap over my head and felt immensely disappointed.

Baz spoke first. He always goes first when we lose. He just said, “Lads, I’m immensely proud of the efforts that you’ve put in, we’ve made the game what it was. We were so close to pulling off an unbelievable victory. We played all the cricket in the game. If it wasn’t for us, the Australians wouldn’t have even had a chance to win.”


And then the dust settles, and you’re reminded again of the bigger picture. It’s about more than just winning a Test match. Because at the end of the day, stats are forgotten. It’s more than that. We’re trying to create memories and be that team that everyone still speaks about in 20-30 years’ time.

We were surprised by how defensive Australia were and how unwilling they were to go toe-to-toe with us. Obviously it’s worked for them this Test match. But we feel that with the way they’re playing at the moment, a pitch with a bit more movement would benefit us hugely. Baz said it after the game, “It feels like we’ve won, lads.” We’ve entertained the world, and we’ve put the Aussies on the back foot. For him to say that after a loss is quite significant for us.

We were surprised to see Australia so defensive from ball one. You just don’t see the Australians cautious and on the back foot like that. As soon as we saw the field for that first over, we felt like we had a hold on them. And then came that first shot from Zak Crawley. Broady [Stuart Broad] said it’s his favourite ever Ashes moment. The noise, the sound, the crowd, it was just amazing to witness, and the roar in the dressing room was so loud, you’d have thought we’d won the series already.

We felt like we had to move the game on to give ourselves time to try and bowl Australia out. But let’s be honest, even if the pitch had done a bit more, we would have played the same way. We will always take the aggressive option. And that’s what we saw over those five days on a pretty docile wicket. I think most teams in the world would have just settled for the draw and moved down. But we want to capture the imaginations of people. We want kids to grow up wanting to play Test cricket for England. I saw there were record viewing numbers for the match, which is pretty special, and shows that we’re going on the right lines.

Of course it sounds weird because they won it, but I think if they’re honest, Australia will look at themselves and realise they need to change their approach to keep up with how we’re going to play. If there’s any movement in the pitch at Lord’s, the way we’re playing compared to them is going to benefit us hugely.


It was certainly an interesting week for me, taking Broady’s mantle as Australia’s public enemy number one!

I didn’t realise the Ussie [Usman Khawaja] send-off was such a big thing until I got off the pitch to find my phone blowing up with mates texting me and it all going off. I just got caught up in the moment. I was desperate for a wicket; I hadn’t bowled that well in the first innings, I’d had that slip in my second over and lost a bit of confidence, and then I was trying to feel my way back in a little bit, having not played much for a while. And obviously Ussie was the big wicket, he was playing beautifully. It was nothing against Ussie, it was just one of those things, I got caught up in the moment and let myself go.

We’ve all seen it with Jimmy [Anderson], Broady, [Glenn] McGrath, Brett Lee. All the bowlers do it when they’re fired up and trying to get a wicket for their team. I spoke to Ussie after as well and we were all good. He was just like, “Mate, just be careful what you say.” It was nothing against him and we had a good chat. He’s a nice guy and I’ve always gotten on well with him, having played against him a few times.

Ollie Robinson and Usman Khawaja exchange words on day five

Ollie Robinson and Usman Khawaja exchange words on day five

I think in those big moments I sometimes forget where I am. And there’s a thousand cameras on me! I’m not normally an explicit sort of person when I get a wicket, it’s normally just a big roar, or my eyes go a bit crazy. Anyway I’ve definitely learned my lesson!

I definitely felt a bit rusty in that first innings. Jimmy was saying the same. When I haven’t played cricket for a few weeks I do tend to take a few spells to get back up to speed. In the second innings I felt a lot better. I tried everything. Knuckleballs, slowies, cross-seamers, seam-up, anything to try and get some movement. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite cross the line.


We know what’s at stake at Lord’s. It’s not just the game and the result on the line, but also the faith that we’re asking the English public to have in us for playing in this new way. We understand that some fans are still getting to grips with the new philosophy, and of course nobody wants to go 2-0 down in a five-match series, especially against the Aussies.

Ollie Robinson took 5-98 at Edgbaston

Ollie Robinson took 5-98 at Edgbaston

But I think the way we’re playing, you could see us come even harder at Lord’s, which is quite a tough thing to do when you’re 1-0 down. We spoke about it in the dressing room. ‘Were we aggressive enough? Did we go hard enough?’ Even if we lose again by a small margin, and create another amazing Test match, we’re still going to feel like we’re doing the job that we want to do.

I have faith in this team that even if we went 2-0 down we could still win 3-2, because of the style of cricket that we’re playing. Obviously we want the public to be invested in us and we want to win games for them. If they can keep backing us, I promise they’ll get rewarded, and 2-0 down could be 3-2 and we’ll see one of the greatest series ever.

One thing I can guarantee. You’re going to see us come harder and harder.

Ollie Robinson will be writing for Wisden.com throughout the Ashes.

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99