In the intra-squad warm-up game ahead of the England-West Indies Test series, Stuart Broad, Chris Wakes, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were all a part of Team Buttler. You’d expect one of them to grab the headlines. However, that wasn’t the case. It was Ollie Robinson who stole the limelight. All that he bowled were nine overs, which was the least among all the fast bowlers and yet he made an impact.
Nine overs, four maidens, seven runs and two wickets. This is what his figures read. He consistently pegged away, gave absolutely nothing and time and again just landed the ball consistently in one area. He troubled the batsmen with nagging lines and lengths and came out successful.
Robinson has been among the prominent names in the England domestic cricket for the last couple of seasons. He’s picked up as many as 137 wickets in the 2018 and 2019 season which is the second-most in the last two seasons after Simon Harmer’s 140 wickets.
Consistent performances over since 2018 and a probing spell in the intra-squad warm-up game means that Robinson has now thrown his hat in the ring for a spot in the Test squad as well. He’s troubled almost everybody in County cricket and looks ready for the big stage as well.
The Sussex speedster is not a bowler who will intimidate the batsmen with pace like Archer or Wood or isn’t that huge mover of the ball either like James Anderson. He’s more of the fold of a James Porter who will hit one spot consistently, bowling nagging lines, move the ball just enough and the one who can bowl a heavy ball. Hence, he could provide a different dimension to the already rich England pace attack.
Background and experience
The journey of Ollie Robinson, the stepson of former England assistant coach Paul Farbrace, started with Yorkshire back in 2013. Before the start of the season in 2013, he was awarded a contract. He instantly made an impact in the shorter formats for his death bowling skills. However, at 20, he was sacked because of a number of unprofessional incidents.
For a short duration, Ollie Robinson played in the second XI teams for Hampshire and Essex before signing a contract with Sussex. After two years of making his List ‘A’ debut, Robinson made his first-class debut playing for Sussex in 2015. He had a dream debut with both bat and ball. With the bat, the Kent-born cricketer smashed a 112-ball 110 rescuing Sussex from 151/8 before picking 4/71 in his maiden outing with the ball.
Not only that match, but Robinson also had a fruitful debut season. The fast bowler played 11 games in Sussex’s County Championship Division One campaign. He took 46 wickets at an average of 24.71 picking up a wicket once every seven overs. He contributed 282 runs with the bat as well.
But it wasn’t all rosy for Robinson in the next couple of years. In 2016, he again played 11 games in the County Championship. However, he was able to pick just 19 wickets at an average of 47.89. His batting did flourish as he made 389 runs averaging 38.90. 2017 wasn’t great either. 2016’s performances meant he played just four games in 2017, picking up 19 wickets. Moreover, he didn’t really play a lot of white-ball cricket either, which originally brought him into the spotlight when he was playing for Yorkshire.
But it was the 2018 and 2019 seasons that really turned things around for Robinson.
Claim to fame
The arrival of Jason Gillespie at Sussex made a significant impact. In fact, it’s ironic Robinson has flourished under the coach who was at helm at Yorkshire when Robinson was sacked. The years 2018 and 2019 were better than ever and Robinson was bowling like a dream. He put in the hard yards and the numbers, stats and the success simply followed.
In three years of County cricket, Robinson had picked up 74 wickets from 26 games. And in the last two seasons, he’s played 25 games but picked up almost double the number of wickets. In the last two seasons combined, no other fast bowler has more wickets than Robinson’s 137 scalps in County cricket. He averages a stunning 18.09 in 2018 and 2019 combined. In both seasons, he ended up as the second-highest wicket-taker in the County Championship Division Two.
In 2018 which was the first year of Gillespie as Sussex coach, Robinson thrived and was bang on target taking a wicket every 39 balls. He picked up 74 wickets, one less than Kent’s Matt Henry. He took four five-wicket hauls and one of them was a ten-fer in the match.
In 2019, Robinson played three games less and returned with 63 wickets. His average, strike-rate, economy, number of five and ten-wicket hauls, everything increased when compared to 2018. He was striking once every six overs and averaged 16.44 runs per wicket. The Sussex lad took six fifers and three times he took ten wickets in the game.
Another match. Another @ollierobinson25 show.
— County Championship (@CountyChamp) August 22, 2019
On the back of two successful County seasons, Robinson got a chance in the England Lions squad that toured Australia last winter. While he played all the red-ball games, it was the one performance against Australia ‘A’ that stood out. Against a strong batting line-up, Robinson took seven wickets across both innings (3/66 and 4/81) in the game to bowl the Lions to victory.
The way Ollie Robinson has bowled over the last couple of years, he deserves to be around the England Test squad. Yes, England’s Test team is filled with fast bowlers and they seem to be spoilt for choice at the moment. However, Robinson could be a good addition to the squad with England looking to rotate the pacers throughout this series. He could be a good replacement for someone like Stuart Broad.
Robinson has been around the Sussex side for five successive County seasons now and barring the season in 2017, he’s played at least 11 games in each of them. Moreover, as it’s been repeatedly mentioned, he has been the standout bowler in the England first-class domestic competition in 2018 and 2019. His overall numbers also wear a good look – 236 wickets at an average of 22.33 while picking up a wicket once almost every 44 balls. Those are impressive stats. He also chips in nicely with the bat. He averages 21.26 with the blade having scored one ton and five half-centuries.
Thus, watch out for Ollie Robinson, he might be the next big fast bowler in England cricket, especially in the longest format.