Ollie Robinson’s eventful year with England takes another upturn

The narrative arc of Ollie Robinson’s summer would startle the chiselled hero of a summer beach bonk-buster. From hero to villain and back again, from county pro on the south coast to man of the match here, from being hauled up and suspended over past racist tweets to contemplating a long future as an England player. Pinch yourself, Ollie, how the worm turns.

Two wickets in the first innings were complemented by a beautifully crafted five in the second, to bowl England to a comprehensive innings victory well before lunch. After sending back the dangerous Rohit Sharma on Friday evening the rest came on a morning made for batting: flush hot, forget-me-not skies, a crowd set fair for the day.

From a distance Robinson does not look like an international fast bowler. He is not pristinely lithe like Jimmy Anderson, elastic like Jofra Archer or effortlessly long-limbed like Stuart Broad. But he shrugs off his 6ft 5in stonemason’s frame and, with a sharp brain, runs in and pings it on the right spot, methodically, honed by long spells running through county line-ups.

In he thundered from the Kirkstall Lane End, trampling on his own shrinking shadow, to march out the crucial wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Ishant Sharma, three caught poking, while Pujara unwisely stuck his pad out to an inswinger, 15 minutes into the morning’s play, precipitating a calamitous collapse.

Three Tests in and India have not yet got the measure of Robinson, as Kohli said: “He understands his skills really well, understands angles, swings the ball both ways, is very consistent, especially in these conditions. He is a real find for them.”

The long-term elbow injury to Archer and the tiring bodies of Anderson and Broad have boosted Robinson’s chances of a long-term future with England. After four Tests his figures read 23 wickets at 17.65.

Despite being new on the Test scene Robinson is confident he can succeed at the highest level. “Over the last three or four years in county cricket I’ve been up there with the leading wicket takers and getting good players or overseas players out often. So I knew that, if I stepped up to Test cricket, I could do the same and luckily I have been able to and hopefully I’ve taken my chance now and it will keep me in the team for years to come.”

“It feels like a very special day, it’s one of the great days in my cricket career to get my first Test win and to take the vital wickets. It was an amazing feeling, the crowd here were unbelievable. The noise when we got Kohli out was deafening, just an unbelievable experience and feeling to get that wicket.”

Robinson spent time with Yorkshire as a young man before being released because of his unprofessional attitude but it was not a wasted experience: “I sort of knew the ends I was bowling at a bit better than maybe the other grounds, so it definitely helped. And it was extra special to get a winning five-for for England at this ground.”

As well as working on improving himself as a man, with the help of the PCA, he is keen to learn as a bowler. His reputation as a quick learner was enhanced by picking up a new wobble ball a week after approaching Anderson for advice.

“I spoke to him when we got back to Headingley and just tried to practise it in the nets, where it went quite nicely. I tried it in the game and it worked quite well – it’s something I need to practise a bit more, but learning off Jimmy is invaluable at this stage of my career and luckily it came off.”

By the hug the old veteran gave his young pretender, Anderson was well pleased with his work.

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