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‘The numbers are hard to ignore’ – Wisden writers discuss Ollie Robinson’s England prospects

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

After his match-winning return for England Lions against Australia A at the MCG, the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast panel reviewed Ollie Robinson’s performance and discussed his prospects of a breakthrough into the senior England set-up.

The right-arm quick performed well in tandem with Craig Overton and picked up seven wickets across two innings in the Lions’ nine-wicket win. It followed on from a stellar season with Sussex in the County Championship last year; Robinson’s 63 wickets came at a lowly average of 16.44.

The panel of Phil Walker, Yas Rana and Jo Harman, discussed Robinson’s credentials and whether he could fit into England’s Test plans in the near future in the latest podcast episode.

YR: Phil mentioned Ollie Robinson; he took seven wickets in the game, he’s got an amazing first-class record of 236 wickets at 22. He’s not that quick but Phil, you said he bowls a heavy ball.

PW: Yeah, I saw him bowl well at The Oval a year or two back. He’s that kind of bowler that you wouldn’t fancy facing. As you say, he’s not going to hurt you. But he bowls that back of a length, ‘hit the splice’ kind of a ball…

YR: Maybe a Toby Roland-Jones kind of bowler…

PW: Yeah, maybe not quite as much nip as Toby Roland-Jones, but not far off. And he’s been sniffing around that set-up for a while. I remember he had a great debut; he started at Yorkshire before going down to Sussex. He took eight wickets [Ed: four] and made a hundred from No.9 or 10. He’s been sniffing around the setup for a while. But you hesitate to say that he’s a Test-match player.

JH: He was released by Yorkshire somewhat surprisingly and there were rumours about his behaviour, that he turned up late to a few things. Sussex was kind of a fresh start for him and Jason Gillespie’s obviously been working with him a lot at Sussex. His record over the last few years is ridiculous: last summer he took 64 [first-class] wickets at 18.9, a year before that 81 wickets at 17.

Those numbers, even if we’re talking that he hasn’t necessarily got the pace that you would look for in a Test bowler, they’re hard to ignore, perhaps falling into the kind of Jamie Porter category of local fans; you see him every week and can’t understand why he doesn’t play for England, whereas England selectors we know are looking for 85-miles-an-hour plus bowlers. But if you go to Australia and you take wickets, there’s not much more you can do to put yourself in the mix for the Test team.

PW: Yeah, to echo that, Craig Overton had a really good game there. He was on that fateful tour [Ashes series of 2017/18] of course; he actually played under the lights in that Adelaide game and got [Steve] Smith out off various parts of Smith’s body mildly fortuitously but, there is a place for that bowler as the third or fourth seamer. The problem that England had on that tour was that they were all third or fourth seamers.

JH: So we have Wood, Archer, all being well fitness wise, then then you do need kind of a steady, ‘hold up an end’ kind of a bowler. Overton and potentially Robinson fall into that category.

YR: It’s quite a young England Lions team and should be quite interesting to see how they will go with the start of the County Championship season. There are quite a few games to go before the start of the first Test match.

You can listen to the full episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast on the Podcast App or Spotify.

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