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ROBERT WALTER VIVIAN ROBINS, the Middlesex all-rounder, was born on June 3, 1906, at Stafford. Coached as a boy by his father, who played for Staffordshire before the war, and later on by Albert Knight, the old Leicestershire professional, he came to London in 1917 and went to Highgate School.
In his first year in the eleven, he gave promise of the form he was subsequently destined to show in more important cricket, for he averaged 27 in batting and obtained 28 wickets at a cost of 23 runs each. The next three years he headed both batting and bowling tables with excellent figures.
In 1925 when captain, he scored, 816 runs (highest innings 206) with an average of nearly 63 and took no fewer than 60 wickets for less than 16 runs apiece. His all-round cricket made him one of the great schoolboy players of the year.
On proceeding to Cambridge, he secured his Blue as a Freshman and, in the University match, made 37 and not out 21. Against Oxford the following year he made 55 and 41, while in his last year at Cambridge he scored 53 and not out 101 at Lord's and took eight wickets for 151 runs. That season he was invited to play for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's but met with only moderate success.
Meanwhile he had, while still at Highgate, played in a few matches for Middlesex, whom he has assisted since his last year at school with increasing credit, particularly as a bowler. In 1928 his form approached that of his best days at Cambridge. Last season his googly bowling proved of great value to the county.
Curiously enough, he was not always a bowler of this type for only in his year of captaincy at Highgate did he practice this ball. Even at Cambridge, his powers in this direction were dormant or unrevealed. Only towards the end of the summer of 1928, when playing for Middlesex, did he blossom out as a bowler possessed of special gifts.
Robins, who, last season at Lord's, played in his first Test match for England, accomplished nothing in batting and not until he was put on at the Pavilion end in the second innings of South Africa was he very effective as a bowler. Still, as always, he fielded splendidly at cover point.
As a googly bowler, he still has something to learn, his fault being that he tries to bowl too fast, and as his trajectory is consequently much lower than that of, say, Freeman, his flight is rarely deceptive. For his success he relies on his very powerful finger-spin which enables him to make the ball turn quickly and at a sharp angle. On his day, he is likely to run through any side but much of his good work is spoiled by erratic length.
As a batsman he is a fine driver, hitting the ball very hard on either side. Altogether, in his way, Robins is a remarkable young cricketer of whom the best has quite possibly not yet been seen.