Durham 103 for 2 (Stoneman 57) trail Sussex 335 (Robinson 110, Hobden 64*) by 231 runs
A desire to prove people wrong is a powerful motivational tool that comes to the aid of many sportsmen. On a sunny, spring day in Chester-le-Street, it empowered Oliver Robinson as the seam bowler notched up his maiden first-class century on Sussex debut and helped break a century-old county record in the process.
Durham were looking to wrap things up before tea on a bowlers' day in the north-east. Any chance of a Sussex fight back looked unlikely with a No.11 and a debutant at the crease. But the pair put on 164 runs for the final wicket and surpassed a 107-year record for the best tenth-wicket partnership for Sussex.
Ten months ago Robinson's contract with Yorkshire was terminated due to "a number of unprofessional actions", involving poor timekeeping and less than perfect attendance at training sessions. Since then, in an attempt to recalibrate his career, the 21-year-old has played second XI cricket for Hampshire and Essex before signing for Sussex on a short-term deal and coming under the supervision of coach Mark Robinson.
"A couple of weeks ago I came to a training session and then got asked to play a two's game down at Radlett against Middlesex, scored a hundred in that and bowled quite well." said Robinson. "In the middle of last week Robbo mentioned that I might be playing Sunday, so I prepared myself for it and got up for it and now we're here today."
If it wasn't for Tymal Mills' back injury, he wouldn't have even made the trip to Durham, let alone play. But he did and Sussex were grateful for that as he put Sussex into a position of command at the end of day in which he scored a debut century and then adorned the day by picking up his maiden first-class wicket.
When Robinson walked in, the visitors were struggling at 144 for 7 and had lost three wickets in the previous five overs. They lost two more in quick succession and the score was 171 for 9 when Matthew Hobden came to the crease. Between them, the pair transformed the match.
Robinson, stepson of the England assistant coach Paul Farbrace, admitted that they weren't aware of the record. "When we got to 50 partnership, we were like come on let's get to 100, just keep going. We just kept each other going really."
Robinson, in particular, looked like a man on a mission to prove Yorkshire wrong. While the other batsmen struggled to cope with the movement that Durham's bowlers extracted from a lively pitch, the one-time junior batting partner of Sam Northeast, the Kent batsman, stroked the ball to all corners of the ground.
His offensive approach yielded rich rewards as he scored a run-a-ball century just before a tea break that seemed to be delayed for ever, ably supported by Hobden who reached his maiden first-class fifty. Sussex's 10th-wicket record, set by George Cox snr and Harry Butt against Cambridge University in 1908, was beaten.
While he was lucky to be given not out after being run out by John Hastings just after reaching his 50 when the score was 213 for 9, and replays suggested he had not grounded his bat, Durham simply had no answer to Robinson's carefree attitude.
Robinson described it as a "pretty special" day in his career, especially after the last two years. "When I was out there I was just trying to bat, keep it steady. I'm still pretty gobsmacked to be honest. I'm not sure what's happened today. When I lie down on my bed later, I might take it in a bit more."
It might also take Durham's bowlers and their coach a bit more time to recollect what happened on a day that saw more than 400 runs being scored despite the pitch offering something for the seamers.
Despite losing Chris Nash in the first over, Ed Joyce and Matt Machan looked set score big before being removed in the space of five balls just before lunch. But it was after lunch that the game turned on its head. The visitors lost five wickets for 54 runs before the record tenth-wicket partnership.
After the hosts eventually removed Robinson for 110 after tea, they got off to brisk start as Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings looked set to finish the day unbeaten. But it was Robinson once again who brought Sussex back, by removing both openers in the space of three overs to cap off a memorable first-class debut.