Fast bowler Ollie Robinson is “good enough to thrive in Test cricket” if he gets his chance during the Pakistan series, says his Sussex head coach – and former Australia seamer – Jason Gillespie.
Robinson, 26, was added to England’s squad for the second Test last week, having taken 155 first-class wickets over the past two seasons.
And, although James Anderson is the only one nailed on for one of the likely four pace places at Southampton, Gillespie says Robinson is a genuine contender.
“We hope Ollie gets a crack in the next Test,” Gillespie told BBC Radio Sussex.
“He’s ready and deserves the chance. He’s good enough to absolutely thrive in Test cricket.”
Robinson will be competing for a place alongside Anderson – not only with his Sussex team-mate Jofra Archer – but also in-form Chris Woakes, left-armer Sam Curran, World Cup winner Mark Wood and Stuart Broad, fresh from his 500th Test wicket and still smarting from his last omission at the start of the West Indies series.
But England have made some attempts to try to rotate their squad during this lockdown period.
“He’s genuinely in the mix,” said Gillespie. “He certainly wouldn’t let anyone down. He’s tall, runs in, hits the seam, has good control and bowls long, penetrating spells.”
Sacked by Yorkshire, rejuvenated at Hove
Robinson, who was let go by Gillespie’s Yorkshire in 2014 then had a brief spell with Hampshire before joining Sussex in 2015, did not impress when called up for the England Lions last summer.
But that was on a flat track at Canterbury against the touring Australians – and his continued county form ensured that he got another chance this winter.
And it was a different story at the MCG in Melbourne in February when he helped make Australia A follow on, finishing with match figures of 7-145 in the Lions’ nine-wicket win.
He remained part of the set-up when England announced their 55-man training squad – and he has carried on catching the eye, taking match figures of 8-65 in Sussex’s opening Bob Willis Trophy win over Hampshire.
And, when he was called back into the England party last week Sussex suffered badly without him, being caned for a record 423-run stand by Kent teenager Jordan Cox and Jack Leaning.
Australian fast bowling great Gillespie added: “There was a lot of feedback when he was in the Test bubble before the West Indies series that he was one of the best bowlers on show. They are looking at him closely.
“I am delighted for him. I spent a week with the England Lions in Hobart in the winter, and I know he performed well against the Australian XI.
“The feedback then was that Ollie was one of the pick of the bowlers, on the back of some good county form over the past few years.”
‘Ollie’s a bit of a cricket badger’
Gillespie took 259 wickets in 10 years of service for Australia, as well as setting the world record for the highest score by a nightwatchman (201 not out against Bangladesh in Chittagong in April 2006) in the last of his 71 Tests.
After his success with both Yorkshire and Adelaide Strikers, he is now a vastly respected coach too.
He was also in charge of Yorkshire when the young Robinson was sacked for showing an “unprofessional” attitude in 2014. But Gillespie admits that Robinson’s renewed, more mature approach to the a game has won him over and that he has rarely seen a player put in so much effort and research when it comes to the business of taking wickets.
“He’s one of the most researched bowlers I’ve come across,” said Gillespie.
“He’s a bit of a cricket badger. He looks at a lot of footage and studies a lot of opposition players.
“He looks at numbers and stats and formulates his plans for each batsman. He knows where their strengths and weaknesses are, where they play their shots and how to set his fields.”