The Ashes 2013-14

Robson included in performance squad

Alex Winter

September 23, 2013

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

England appear to have won the battle over Sam Robson, the Middlesex batsman, by including him in the Performance Programme squad to tour Australia.

Robson, born in Sydney, qualified for England earlier this season having played for Middlesex since 2009. Australia responded by relaxing their own qualification regulations - dubbed the "Robson rule" - allowing dual-nationals to appear as a domestic-qualified player in more than one country.

The change prevented Robson from having to choose between Middlesex and New South Wales and making an immediate decision on his international future but England have struck a significant blow in including him among their back-up party. Robson is the second-highest runscorer in Division One of the County Championship this season with 1,180 runs at 47.20.


Sam Robson fell just after tea, Middlesex v Surrey, County Championship, Division One, Lord's, 2nd day, May, 3, 2013
Sam Robson's international loyalty is up for debate © Getty Images
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Also selected in the performance squad are several players who have regularly appeared for England Lions, among them Worcestershire's Moeen Ali, who has scored more runs than anyone in the County Championship this season, and Chris Jordan who appeared for England in the recently-concluded one-day series against Australia.

Two omissions from the performance squad are Nick Compton, who began the season opening the batting against New Zealand and James Taylor, the spare batsman for the Ashes. Neither will have a chance to impress in Australian conditions are now further away from the Test side than at the start of the season. But this party is not a reserve squad per se, unlike the group that shadowed the Test squad in 2010-11. England Lions are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka in January,

Along with Robson, Mark Wood, the 23-year-old Durham bowler, is the other player selected in an England squad for the first time. Wood is a highly thought-of right-arm seamer and took 27 wickets at 24.07 in helping Durham win the County Championship. He and Somerset's Jamie Overton won't travel to Australia but will remain at Loughborough for strength and conditioning work.

The entire squad will meet up in Loughborough for a preparation period before leaving for Australia on Novemeber 14. They will spend a month initially in Brisbane at the Cricket Australia high performance centre and then at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The tour includes two three-day matches in Brisbane and a final match in Perth.

England Performance Squad
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Ben Foakes (Essex), James Harris (Middlesex), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Alex Lees (Yorkshire), Tymal Mills (Essex), Jamie Overton* (Somerset), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Reece Topley (Essex), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood* (Durham)

*To remain in the UK and specialise in strength and conditioning at the National Cricket Performance Centre

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SDHM on (September 29, 2013, 19:51 GMT)

@Tim Foster - think it might have been the other way round. Because he was playing in the UK on a British passport he would have been considered an overseas if he went back to Australia, hence the 'Robson Rule'. Personally think he's made the braver decision - he'd walk into the Aussie side tomorrow, but there's going to be a hell of a lot of competition for places over the next few years for batting spots at the top of the order for England, with Cook, Root, Carberry, Compton, Robson, Lees, Chopra, Burns, Wells, Sibley...

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

@Sir Francis, he's apparently been offered contracts to play in the Sheffield Shield in the past but had he taken the offer he'd have had to play for Middlesex as an overseas player making it harder for himself to ensure a contract. CA have changed the rules as of this season meaning he wouldn't have to choose, however it looks as though it's too late.

Posted by enjoythegame on (September 24, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

I too was unsure why woakes has not been named in either squad. If as stated below that he has signed a contract to play in SA then the question is WHY? I believe he has been signed on an England contract and as such funded by the ECB. How much money do we have? As woakes is certainly not a regular and we are sending players off to Australia should we not therefore be working on their personal development under the watchful eyes and guidance of our coaches?

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 24, 2013, 8:26 GMT)

Touring is about much more than playing cricket. There are a number of players in this Performance Squad about whom the England set-up knows little. How they gel, how each player behaves outside the strictly cricketing environment as well as within it, will provide pointers to the likelihood of eventual selection of some at a higher level. A lot of people are often at a loss to explain why X is chosen over Y for England international recognition, especially (emphasis on 'especially') for a fairly lengthy tour. I would suggest that this is very often down to some perceived qualities beyond an exclusive focus on technique & talent. A decent work ethic, humour, sociability, being supportive towards other team members (even when you haven't been selected on a particular occasion) all must play a part. Who has these & who does not will be part of the report on the success of the venture. Cricket is a team game & the one quality that management really appreciates is 'low maintenance'.

Posted by Sir_Francis on (September 24, 2013, 1:34 GMT)

Mystified by this talk about Robson. He's played plenty of Grade cricket in Sydney without ever eliciting even the slightest interest from the selectors of any of the Shield teams. Doesn't mean he isn't any good, just that he hasn't impressed anyone. As for CA relaxing it's rules well, CA aren't exactly the smartest sporting officials in Australia (not that I know any that are).

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (September 24, 2013, 0:08 GMT)

@ JG2704 - Woakes signed a contract to play in SA over the winter. As for Taylor and Compton, yes probably the door is closing on them. Not a lot of new names there and this is a pretty experienced Lions squad. Hoping to see a good showing from some of the younger ones like Topley and Lees.

Posted by Bearded_Lefty on (September 23, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

Great to see 3 Essex players in there.

Posted by Chris_P on (September 23, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

@landl47. From what I have studied I agree Chopra seemed a little unfortunate. Robson has had a very good season with his county, but the thing at the back of my mind was his struggles on our pitches when he was here. he wasn't even scoring runs in Sydney Grade cricket where many other batsmen were selected ahead of him for NSW. The absence of batting on our tracks for a few years may or may not have helped, but he only has to ask his dad for advice. He was a fine, solid batsmen & unfortunately around when batting riches were overflowing in NSW when they had Walters, McCosker, Ian Davis, Border, Toohey etc. around in front of him.

Posted by SDHM on (September 23, 2013, 21:37 GMT)

@JG - worth pointing out the EPP is different to the Lions. Miller said earlier this is more about giving players who have yet to do much touring experience, whilst also getting them into the set-up, rather than it being a genuine second string. The Lions tour Sri Lanka after the new year, would expect to see the likes of Woakes & Taylor in there.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 23, 2013, 20:57 GMT)

So I guess this means that there is no hope for Taylor,Nick,Woakes,Borthwick etc

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (September 23, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

Huge amount of talent there I guess this means curtains for a Kieswetter return or James Taylor call up though. Tymal Mills Chris Jordanand David Willey and Jamie Overton is some serious firepower they will have field day bowling together down under!

Posted by   on (September 23, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

An interesting squad. It's good to see raw yongsters like Tymal Mills given this experience - he seems to have real pace. The only other player I would have liked to see on this tour was Harry Gurney - a left-armer with good pace and bounce who can bring the ball in to the right-handers. Moeen Ali and Varun Chopra look ready to be brought into the test squad if necessary.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (September 23, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

OK, I take back the Robson question. Apparently there have been talks with him and a separate announcement is due, but he has stated that he is totally committed to England.

Posted by SDHM on (September 23, 2013, 17:22 GMT)

@landl47 - regarding spinners, would loved to have seen Borthwick & Rafiq in there, but both have had frustrating seasons. Borthwick barely bowls in half of his games thanks to the nature of the wicket of at Durham (& is then expected to run through sides on drier wickets away from home despite having no rhythm from bowling) and Rafiq missed a large chunk through injury, and then couldn't get back in the side thanks to Yorkshire picking Rashid, who gives them a better balance at 6. Genuinely think in one of those two though there is the replacement for Swann; both are fine all round cricketers. Borthwick has had a fine season with the bat, & Rafiq looks a natural despite his currently underwhelming FC record, and with his captaincy in the T20 last year looks an excellent thinker of the game. Rate them both higher than Briggs, in first class cricket anyway.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (September 23, 2013, 17:03 GMT)

With Robson selected in the performance squad i'm still wondering why Carberry has made the senior squad? It's plain as day Eng will stick with Cook/Root, unless Root has a total shocker, otherwise Carberry will be carrying drinks. If a replacement was needed then I think Robson would have fit the bit & could have just been called across from the PS. I like Carberry & I hope he gets a run in the ltd side, but I think it's too late in the day to be trying devolpe him as a test opener. Personally I still think Compton should be opening & Root batting at 6, but dosen't look as if that will ever happen again now.

Posted by landl47 on (September 23, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

@jmcilhinney: if form is the criterion, then I'd have taken Chopra ahead of Robson instead of Carberry. Chopra has made 50s in each of his last 3 FC games. Robson is in the middle of a bad streak- 194 runs @ 21 in his last 5 FC games, with no 50s. Chopra is also a couple of years older and much more experienced.

I don't frankly see how Robson is going to get to the test side unless Cook or Root are injured or have a horrendous run of form. Vince is younger and I think is going to be better than Robson and can bat anywhere- he opens in List-A.

Posted by landl47 on (September 23, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

The only real surprise here is that James Taylor has not been selected. England seem either to not pick him at all or make him captain. There's a Lions tour in the new year, so maybe he'll be on that, as captain, of course.

Otherwise, it's a pretty well balanced squad and very young- Moeen Ali and Varun Chopra, who both recently turned 26, are the veterans. I would guess one of them will be captain- Moeen is the older by 3 days, so perhaps he gets it!

Pleased to see Vince in the squad, he's had a great season and is getting better and better. There can't be two better young WK/batsmen in the world than Buttler and Foakes. Jordan and Mills are genuinely fast, Harris is very reliable and Topley is 6' 7" and left-handed, a great prospect. Willey is rewarded for a good season with bat and ball. The only weak area is spin- no off-spinner or leggie in the squad and Briggs and Kerrigan are similar.

They'll probably struggle due to inexperience, but that's the way to learn.

Posted by salazar555 on (September 23, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

If James Taylor is not in the main squad then surely he has to be in this. The same could be said of Woakes. Happy to see Robson and Lees in the team

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (September 23, 2013, 15:52 GMT)

The Robson case is quite interesting. Miller is just dangling him out there to see if Australia bite. I suspect though he will stick with England, particularly as Root is not a total certainty. Obviously he can play a bit. I am glad Moeen is going-he seems to like the TV and is quite attractive to watch.Also he can bowl. There are some good names for the future picked with plenty of quicks. I am surprised Borthwick is not there though. England have many young players in the mix now though who the top ones is not clear yet. It is good there is a LIons tour too, particularly to SL which is a challenge for them.

Posted by SDHM on (September 23, 2013, 15:06 GMT)

@Stargazer - I'm fairly certain that nowadays players are formed some way ahead of time for their inclusion in these things. He would have had plenty of time to think it over, so I think we can take this as a sign he has committed to England. It was a similar situation with Jordan at Sussex. If so, it's possible his form will take an upturn once again - can't have been easy from him to concentrate on his cricket with all the speculation & CA introducing a ruling specifically for him!

@Dashgar & Cyril_Knight - ironically isn't part of the reason Robson ended up in England was because the NSW selectors though Hughes and Khawaja were better long term bets? Could be some serious egg on faces down in Sydney then...

Posted by   on (September 23, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

where is scott borthwick he isnt included when danny briggs always gets in the perforance squad for nothing .

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (September 23, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

I don't know how much people have been following Sam Robson's progress (people at Middlesex were raving about him in 2011 and saying that he was a real international prospect) but, has anyone noticed that since he was mentioned as an England possible and the tug of love started for him, his form has fallen right away?

He was in incredible form for the first half of the season and has hardly scored a run since, hence the sudden downturn in Middlesex results because they stopped getting jet-propelled starts from Rogers and Robson.

Posted by Cyril_Knight on (September 23, 2013, 14:29 GMT)

@Dashgar who like Fawad Ahmed?

Robson was never given a go in Australia. He chose to move to England where he worked hard and earned the stability that a County cricket contract provides.

Mercenary is better suited to the ten Doeschates, Yasir Arafats and Shaun Taits of the world.

However I've seen a lot of Robson and don't believe he will ever better than any of the other openers available. The decision by ECB to select him may have more to do with preventing him from playing for Australia. He is certainly a far better long-form batter than Warner, Hughes, Smith or Khawaja and of course has a great partnership with Rogers.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (September 23, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

Some years back Andrew Symonds was included in a Lions squad on the basis of declaring himself England-qualified and playing as a domestic player in England (he signed that he would play for England, if picked). He turned down the invite and later played for Australia instead. Upset a few people, including Gloucestershire, who were employing him and suddenly found him no longer eligible.

Has Sam Robson actually accepted the invite?

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 23, 2013, 13:38 GMT)

Can we have the full Performance Squad, please?

Posted by Dashgar on (September 23, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

Meh, good riddance. If England want mercenaries they can have them. Australia will rise again and it will be on the back of Australian boys rising through the ranks. In a few years England will be a joke again.

Posted by SDHM on (September 23, 2013, 12:58 GMT)

Like the look of a lot of players here (although no James Taylor in either squad continues to irk me - it seems they just don't see him as an international player, despite his mountain of runs for the Lions over the years), but I don't really see the point of including Overton and Wood and then not taking them to Australia to actually do some bowling!

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (September 23, 2013, 12:20 GMT)

He has averaged 47.20 for an entire season yet his career average is still under 40, he must have had a real rough start. If he wants to play for England then good luck to him, he would be hoping for Root to mess up or Compton/Carberry not to get called up. Either way he is already 24 and not the next cab off the rank either.

As funny as it sounds,it wont be an express iin Australia either, he would have to play grade cricket, then advance to sheild then perform there. He mightn't ever get there, he should choose wisely.

Posted by rjt00 on (September 23, 2013, 12:16 GMT)

The headline said, Robson included in the squad. Boy, I thought it was Laura Robson!

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