Ollie Robinson aims to emulate Freddie Flintoff by ‘taking it to the Aussies’ at the Ashes after being inspired watching England’s 2006-07 team on holiday as a schoolkid
- The Ashes’ first Test gets underway at The Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday
- Ollie Robinson will be heavily involved in England’s effort as a seamer
- Robinson back on track after discriminatory tweets surfaced following his debut
Ollie Robinson bunked off school to take in an Ashes series Down Under and experienced the joy of defeating Australians on their own soil during his apprenticeship. Now for the graduation at the Gabba.
Robinson, 28, looks certain to be one of the seamers England invest in to exploit what are expected to be extremely bowler-friendly conditions in Brisbane later this week.
Selection will be the fulfilment of a dream inspired by his 13-year-old self recognising the good in the 2006-07 side whitewashed by an Australia hell-bent on revenge.
England’s Ollie Robinson is aiming to make an impact on the Ashes, which start on Wednesday
Robinson remembers watching Freddie Flintoff at the 2006-07 Ashes and was inspired
‘There were moments in that series, like when Freddie Flintoff got 89 one day, when England took it to the Aussies and growing up that’s what I wanted to do,’ said Robinson, whose father Ian requested extra leave during term time at The King’s School, Canterbury, to take in a month of that particular series.
‘It’s how I wanted to play my cricket. It was massively inspiring to watch that as a youngster and now hopefully try to emulate Flintoff and how other players went about it as well.’
There were fears he would join the one-cap wonder club when historic racist and sexist tweets emerged during his Test debut against New Zealand last summer, but he re-emerged after serving his ban full of contrition and determination to cash in on a second chance.
‘I thought at one stage I wasn’t going to be playing for England again. So, it’s been quite a rollercoaster over the last six to eight months and to be here and be with the team, it’s quite an emotional time for me,’ he said.
Robinson has reached a critical moment in his career, as he revels in a second chance
‘To get here and hopefully play the first Test is going to be huge for me, a massive achievement and something that I’ll never forget.’
So far cricket in Australia has provided good vibes. Last February, more than 12 months before his full international debut, Robinson’s ability to extrapolate extra bounce from his 6ft 5in frame allied to knowledge of using the crease, gleaned from playing Sydney grade cricket alongside Josh Hazlewood, saw him claim seven wickets in a crushing England Lions victory over Australia A — the first such success by an English second string over Australian counterparts.
It also provided him match experience of using a Kookaburra ball. He says the 2021-22 batch they were handed to warm up with on the Gold Coast have contained a thicker lacquer and feel closer to the Duke’s used in home Tests.
‘The ball has felt like it’s swung a bit more this time round. That’s obviously a bonus for us. If the balls stay like that we feel like we can get early wickets and really get on top,’ Robinson said.
‘We found in our practice match that it did swing after lunch, when the ball was 25-30 overs old, which it probably hasn’t done in the past.’
Despite the limited preparation caused by a mandatory 14-day quarantine period on the Gold Coast and four of seven scheduled match days being washed out after switching to Brisbane, Robinson believes England are further down the road of two teams each defeated by India in their most recent Test campaigns.
‘Australia were at the World Cup and in quarantine, so they are probably a few weeks behind us. Hopefully that will give us the edge in the first Test,’ said the Sussex man, who has developed a reputation as a thinking bowler during a collection of 28 wickets in his first five international appearances.
So, what does he think about Steve Smith, the Australian thorn in English sides in recent times?
‘I suppose he is different. I’ve looked at how he’s got out and where he plays the ball from,’ Robinson said. ‘He plays a lot of balls from deep in his crease, his contact points are a lot deeper than other batters. So my lengths might have to be slightly different to him.
‘I’ve just been watching videos really of how he’s got out and in what manner, and also the lead-up to how he’s got out.
‘If you start to starve him of his scoring areas, he seems to want to score. He’s not someone that will just sit there and block all day.’
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