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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paulo on August 31, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    Adam Lyth has had a brilliant championship season and provides an attacking option. But I'd still give Robson the winter to work on his game, give him a Lions tour and play him in the West Indies. Since the Aussies changed their rules to allow dual passport holders to play in their domestic cricket, perhaps Robson should try and play out there as an Aussie? Just a thought. Not sure he'd get selected mind.

  • Bunnie on August 31, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    Robson is not a great player. He's not even a good player. Probably deserves to be in the England side though.

  • CURT on August 30, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    With cook, Ballance and root in the top 5 we can afford to take the risk of Hales opening. Although I wouldn't object to lath or lees opening. Watching cook and Robson open is just painful and as a bowler you must know you are not really going to be out under any pressure,

  • Sam on August 30, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Robson is one of a large field of possible candidates and, on current form, not the best of them. He didn't get much of an opportunity, but many young batsman of equal talent would have loved to have had the same chance. The next test is far away, so nothing is set, but let's see how Hales fares in 50 overs. If he is unconvincing, then Lyth, or Ballance (who has effectively opened once or twice already, due to the Cook and Robson's variable fortunes).

  • Nicholas on August 30, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    The way England treated Compton, and stuck the likes of Root up as opener in tests shows they have absolutely no idea what they're doing at all. It's anyone's guess who's going to get the nod next time round. Unfortunately, we're likely to see chopping and changing for quite some time now.

  • Colin on August 30, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    land47 - I am completely writing him off. He is a opener of limited shot making ability and huge technical problems. No disrespect to the seamers of India or SL but they are hardly world beaters. Steyn, Johnson et al would make mincemeat of him. I think Carberry was jettisoned too quickly (he faced up to MJ and the rest admirably) but I'd go for Lyth. I would like to try and get Taylor or Vince into the side but I wouldn't want to stick Root up there again so Lyth for me.

  • Huw on August 30, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Landl47: I don't think anyone's writing Robson off just because he didn't have a great series. Nor did Moeen Ali, or Alistair Cook, or even Ian Bell (one innings aside) and there are no serious question marks over those three at the moment.

    With Robson, however, there seem to me to be perfectly legitimate questions to be asked about an opening batsman who gets out edging or clean bowled so early so often to a frankly mediocre seam attack. Boycott's often much too harsh on modern players but I have to say his criticism of Robson's technique seems to be entirely justified.

    Even if that can be put right, however, a question remains about his suitability to partner Cook - a plodding right-hander and a plodding left-hander? It's not just the ODI side that looks rather one-paced at the moment. I would argue not. Lyth, Hales and possibly James Vince would all seem somewhat better prospects for the next five or six years. By then, Robson can be tried again if he's sorted matters out.

  • Shoaib on August 30, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Common England! why no James Taylor in the England side? give him the same chance as Robson and he will deliver. England are wasting a great potential in the young James Taylor who I feel is not much different to Root.

  • Prashant on August 30, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    It looks like Robson is not good enough for Test level.. His batting is so conservative and he is so confused about which ball to play and which to leave alone..

    Alex Lees is probably ahead of his Yorkshire opening partner Adam Lyth in the pecking order even though he had already reached 1,000 runs for the season...Alex Lees, 21, is a flexible version of Cook therefore equally tall and phlegmatic but moves his front foot into the off side drive much more fluently.He is with a very solid temperament and has been captaining Yorkshire academy since the age of 16. A natural leader and mature beyond his years. And Lees and cook are complementing each other when they are batting together for open the innings... It is already proven by Cook as he also started his Test career at age of 21...

  • Android on August 30, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    Compton *must* be brought back. He was unfairly jettisoned last year and deserves a second chance at the highest level.

    Vaughan and Flower should vs jewels accountable for destroying Compton's career with their misplaced faith in Root as an owner.

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