England news August 29, 2014

Robson rues missed opportunities

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Robson proud of first England summer

Sam Robson admitted there had been a few "missed opportunities" for him to silence all the debate about whether he is the long-term solution as a Test opener for England, but was content with how he had handled his first spell at international level and will take plenty of "special" memories with him into the winter.

As England fought back comprehensively to take the Test series against India 3-1 - capped with a three-day, innings-and-244-run trouncing at The Oval - after being 1-0 down following an horrendous performance at Lord's, Robson arguably headed the list of players who finished the Test campaign with a question mark, rather than a tick next to their name as England enter their lengthy absence from the five-day game before the Caribbean tour in April.

His tally against India was 165 runs at 23.57 and for the seven Tests in the season it read 336 at 30.54 that included his maiden hundred against Sri Lanka at Headingley. But after reaching three figures in just his third innings and following that with 71 at Trent Bridge he started to struggle against India's seamers.

When he negotiated the first evening at The Oval, alongside Alastair Cook, to walk off with a solid 33 to his name he appeared to have set himself the base to put a more definitive stamp on his season. But five balls in the second day he was bowled by Varun Aaron and England's subsequent demolition job meant he did not get another chance.

"I got myself in a position where I could have gone on with it - in Southampton and then at The Oval, getting through that first evening - so I suppose there were a few missed opportunities but you look back and a lot went our way so it was a pretty positive feeling," Robson told ESPNcricinfo.

"It was such a special couple months. I didn't play as well I would have liked in my first Test against Sri Lanka but put it right in the next Test with 120-odd and then to back that up at Trent Bridge, I was pretty happy with that.

"I would have liked a big score in there towards the end of the series to back up a decent start, but it wasn't to be. Having said that to walk away from your first Test summer with a hundred and a series win, and a convincing one, was pretty special. The hundred gave me the belief I could perform but you have to score runs week in, week out so that's my next challenge."

As the runs dried up towards the end of the Test series, there was the technical analysis of Robson's game with issues dissected ranging from a weakness around off stump to a tendency to be trapped on the crease but it was also often said how intense he appeared at the crease.

But Robson said he played no differently for England than he had done for Middlesex during the time when he was scoring the volume of runs to force the selectors' hand and he insisted he will continue to play in the same way.

"I don't think I'm the most intense character off the field, but that's the way I play on the field," he said, speaking at the Investec Inner City World Cup at Lord's. "I've got my own idiosyncrasies but it's been the way I've played for Middlesex and has worked for me. At the top level people will have their views, but that's the beauty of it and why we want to play Test cricket in the spotlight. I'll just be sticking with what's worked for me."

As one of few Test-only players within the England set-up, Robson will now finish the 2014 season in the Championship for Middlesex that will provide the chance to end with a flourish. He will then face a lengthy wait - likely to be interspersed with a Lions tour of South Africa in the New Year - before finding out whether his own confidence in the summer is reflected by the selectors when they pick the squad to tour West Indies. But before then he is looking for to some time off.

"It has been a big couple of years for me, a massive summer and there's still an important month left with Middlesex," he said. "The Test matches have been draining so I think this will be a good chance, once the season is done, to take a couple of months away from the game, recharge my batteries and go from there."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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