Warwickshire v Middlesex, Edgbaston, 2nd day May 9, 2013

Robson makes a telling point

Middlesex 428 for 5 (Robson 215*, Patel 3-99) v Warwickshire
Scorecard

Perhaps, when we come to reflect on the summer of 2013, we might look at this as a crucial day in the Championship campaign. We might reflect on a bonus point gained and a bonus point lost and conclude that, right there, the Championship title was decided. We might.

We probably won't, though. In truth, this was a largely inconsequential day blighted by awful weather. Only 40 overs were possible as driving rain intervened shortly after lunch.

That was unfortunate for Middlesex. They have been by some distance the best of the sides in this match and had already built a match-defining position, scoring at just over four-an-over throughout the day and securing maximum batting points from the final delivery of the 110th over.

It was a close run thing. With Middlesex requiring a single run and Warwickshire a single wicket from the final delivery of the 110th over for a point, Jeetan Patel saw Gareth Berg coming down the wicket and fired the ball down the leg side. While he beat the bat, Berg was able to get some pad on the ball and it ran away past the clutches of wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and for two byes. Who knows how crucial that point either way may prove by the end of September?

The other event of note was Robson recording the highest first-class score of his career to date. He will face tougher attacks on tougher wickets, but he looks to have many of the qualities required for an international career. He demonstrated a pleasing selflessness as he accelerated smoothly to ensure his side gained full bonus points and, with Warwickshire declining to feed his drives as much as they had on the first day, unveiled some pleasing pulls, a rasping cut and a slog-sweep for six off Patel to take him past his previous best - 204 against Oxford MCCU in 2010.

Some may talk of the return of the heavy roller and suggest that batting has become easier. But for opening batsmen at the start of games, such issues make no difference. To have scored the weight of runs Robson has in April and early May - he has 579 runs from his seven Championship innings this season - is testament to a young man with exceptional powers of concentration, a sound technique and a decent array of strokes.

As yet, most Australian cricket lovers have not woken up to quite what a gem they have let slip through their fingers. They will, though. He has already scored more runs this year than Phil Hughes managed in 17 Championship innings for Worcestershire last year and looks, in these conditions, a far more solid batsman.

Robson looked uncomfortable when asked what he would say if John Inverarity, chairman of the Australian selectors, called tomorrow and asked him to join the Ashes squad. He insists it is "not realistic" to consider the implications of an Australian call-up. Among other issues, he points out that he has "never played first-class cricket in Australia" and that "you have to knock down the door for year after year with weight of runs" to force your way into an international team.

All of which is usually true. But the Australian selectors may be looking for someone to play in England, not Australia. And with his experience and form he would add solidity to a top-order that looks short of such a quality. Besides, by picking him now, the Australian selectors would be investing in the future. He qualifies for England in a year; unless Inverarity and co act with urgency, it will be too late.

It is probably unfair to press him on his future. Robson is a 23-year-old trying to pursue a career in a precarious profession. He knows it is unwise to look too far ahead and while he would, naturally, love to play international cricket, by committing himself to England and county cricket, he has maximised his chances of enjoying a long career in sport. If other options become available, he can consider them. For now, he is happy developing at Middlesex and contributing to a team that looks set for a sustained challenge on the Championship title.

"England is where it is at for me," Robson said. And not just for him, but for his brother, too. Angus Robson, who is 21, is currently playing second XI cricket for Leicestershire. Although it was Robson's mother, who was from Nottingham, who provided the background for his UK passport, his father also played second XI cricket for Worcestershire in 1979.

"I came to London as soon as I finished school," Robson continued. "I love living here and I love playing for Middlesex. There have been opportunities to play first-class cricket in Australia, but it would jeopardise my future with Middlesex [he would have to play as an overseas player if he represented an Australian state in first-class cricket] and I can't do that.

"I really don't want to give any of that any attention. It's so easy to get out. I just want to get stuck in and really make it count while I can."

Sensible words from a sensible man with a very bright future.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments