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Ollie Robinson rises to challenge of stepping into Stuart Broad's shoes

Seamer prises out crucial late wicket of Kohli to cap another sturdy day's work

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
12-Aug-2021
Ollie Robinson has a bowl, England vs India, 2nd Test, Lord's, 1st day, August 12, 2021

Ollie Robinson rose to the challenge of taking the new ball  •  Getty Images

From the moment of his Test debut against New Zealand, and irrespective of his off-field issues, Ollie Robinson has performed like a senior member of England's bowling attack. And on a day of hard toil in the second Test against India at Lord's, he rose to the challenge of filling Stuart Broad's boots, by prising out the crucial late wicket of Virat Kohli to cap another sturdy day's work.
Robinson's close-of-play figures of 1 for 47 in 23 overs were England's most economical of the day, and reflective of a two-string England attack in which he and James Anderson posed a consistent threat to India's well-set batters, but the rest found no answers as Rohit Sharma, with an overseas-best of 83, and KL Rahul, with a fine unbeaten 127, carried their side to a dominant 276 for 3 at the close.
But in inducing an edge off a well-set Kohli, caught at slip by Joe Root for 42 off the second new ball, Robinson crafted an opening for England that he hoped they could yet capitalise on in the morning.
"It was huge and gives us a bit of momentum for the morning," Robinson said at the close. "The plan to him was always fourth, fifth stump, back of a length... luckily the plan worked. We toiled hard today against their batters and to be fair, they played well."
India's openers also played within themselves in tough conditions in the morning session, grafting their way to 14 for 0 in 12 overs before the introduction of Sam Curran allowed Rohit to climb onto the offensive. Robinson resumed after lunch in tandem with Mark Wood, bowling dry at one end while Wood tried in vain to prise an opening in a brisk but expensive spell at the other, but had to wait until his 21st over of the day to earn his first reward.
Given that England had won the toss and chosen to bowl first under overcast skies, the returns for their day's work were scant, but Robinson believed they lacked a bit of good fortune too.
"I expected that. County cricket, you get two or three good batters, here you get six or seven good batters. That's international cricket. I've shown over the last couple of games that I'm ready for the toil when it comes.
"I think on another day it might have happened," he added. "There were probably 10 or 15 play-and-misses that I could count and, on another day, we might have had them two- or three-down early. We definitely looked at conditions and thought we could get a few early ones here. It's just one of those days where they didn't nick it to be honest.
"The swing was a little bit inconsistent, I don't know if it was the ball or the overheads. We decided to go wobble-seam for a little bit, which we felt was a good plan, but the wicket was a little bit slow for it and not as receptive as we thought it might be."
Robinson's promotion to the new ball came after Broad had been ruled out of the series with a calf tear, and for 24 hours before the start of the match, it seemed that Anderson too would be missing out with a quad strain. In the end, England were grateful for his indomitability, as he claimed each of the other two wickets to fall, including Rohit to break an opening stand of 126.
"From speaking to him personally, he said he was absolutely fine," Robinson said. "I think it was more precaution. It's a long series. But he declared himself fit in the morning and you can see he's bowled 22 overs... same old Jimmy. He bowled very well, we've come to expect that of him now, and he just keeps on providing.
"We spoke about getting one or two with the new ball and to have them four- or five-down overnight would have been a good day. If we can get a couple of early ones in the morning we're right in it."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket