Ollie Robinson: I’ll get a better look at Steve Smith in the Sussex nets, but I might not bowl to him
Ollie Robinson isn’t prepared to give Ashes opponent Steve Smith any edge when the pair link up at Sussex in the County Championship.
Smith’s stint on the South coast has been the subject of much debate, with the Australia great set to get three first-class appearances under his belt ahead of the hotly anticipated five-Test series.
The deal is seen by some as giving an unwanted advantage to one of the opposition’s best players, something rarely offered to English players in return, while others view it as strengthening the County Championship and signifying its enduring relevance.
Robinson, as one of England’s premier seamers, will be one of the bowlers Smith is hoping to overcome when the Ashes rolls around. But the right-armer is wary of giving his temporary teammate any unnecessary practice.
“It’ll be good to have him here,” Robinson said. “For county cricket it’s great to have Steve Smith at Sussex. For myself, it’s not going to change a huge amount. I’ll prepare the same way. I might get a better look at him in the nets. I might not bowl at him to be honest. We’ll see how it goes.”
In 2022 Robinson was joined at Sussex by India No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara, who featured in that year’s postponed series decider at The Oval. “We had Pujara here last summer and we played India and I bowled at him a lot,” said Robinson. “I don’t read too much into it. He’s a good player, he’s going to get runs whether I bowl at him here or not. It’s one of those things.”
Robinson fired the opening shot in the traditional pre-Ashes phoney war earlier this month, telling BBC Radio Sussex that he felt England could “give [Australia] a good hiding”.
He explained his willingness to indulge in some pre-series hype.
“I was talking to local radio but I was happy that it got out,” he said. “I mean it’s been happening in every Ashes series for years – Glenn McGrath says 5-0 every Ashes. We say 5-0 every Ashes. It’s one of the biggest series we play, it only comes around every four years in England, so why not talk it up? Get it going, get it big and give the fans what they want.
He also doubled down on his suggestion that England could win the series “comfortably”.
“I think the cricket we’re playing at the moment makes it such an exciting time to play them. We’ve been dominating teams in all conditions for 12 months now. In England we dominated, in Pakistan we dominated and in New Zealand we played most of the cricket for nine days and lost on the last day because we probably weren’t quite there. But I think the way we’re playing cricket, we feel like we can really stick one on them and win the series comfortably.”
The County Championship begins on April 6, while the Ashes kicks off on June 16.