18/04/2024

Ollie Robinson could prove to be the biggest bowling threat for Australia this Ashes series. (Image: ICC Twitter)

With just over a week until the first day of the Ashes, Australian fans will learn of an unfamiliar bowling threat they didn't see coming.

With the 72nd Ashes series set to kick off at the Gabba in just over a week, Australian fans have felt comfortable with their country’s chances of retaining the urn.

When England announced the squad they would fly to Australia, the absences of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes (who has since been added to the squad) settled the nerves of the home fans.

The English squad was described as “weak” and almost immediately talks of an Australian 5-0 whitewash became prevalent.

Despite the reaction, England produced fierce competition in their most recent Test series against India on their home soil, and with the recent inclusion of Ben Stokes, they’ll be more confident than what they’re letting on.

With lethal bowling duo, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, nearing the end of their international careers, the series against India showed glimpses of how the English attack could shape up in their absence.

27-year-old, right-arm, medium-fast pace bowler, Ollie Robinson, could rise from the Ashes and make his name well and truly known throughout world cricket by the end of this summer.

Who is Ollie Robinson?

Ollie Robinson was born on December 1st, 1993, in Margate, Kent. His cricketing career began in 2013, playing for Kent’s Second XI, the first of three county cricket clubs in which he would play Second grade for in the one season with the others being Leicestershire and Yorkshire.

By July 2013, Robinson was called up to make his List A debut, and a month later had signed his first professional contract with Yorkshire.

At the time, Robinson struggled with his level of professionalism and was ultimately ‘sacked’ by Yorkshire. The coach at the time was current South Australia coach, Jason Gillespie.

Gillespie recognised the talent within Robinson, however, the bowler needed to improve his level of maturity in order to be a professional cricketer.

As fate would have it, this wouldn’t be the last time Gillespie and Robinson met as coach and player.

Ollie Robinson with Jason Gillespie (Image: Sussex Cricket)

Signing with Sussex in 2015, the deal was only initially on a short-term basis to help the club get through an injury crisis. Robinson played just one match for the second XI before making his first-class debut the next day.

Batting ninth in the order, Robinson scored 115 runs on debut, contributing to a record-breaking 10th wicket partnership of 164.

The 2015 season for Sussex was a breakthrough period for Robinson, he took 46 wickets at an average of 24.71, resulting in him being named Sussex Young Player of the Year and being rewarded with a three-year contract.

2017 saw Gillespie and Robinson reunited. Gillespie became the head coach of Sussex and rather than being held back based on history, Robinson was able to continue developing and took his game to new levels that would eventually see him in the England setup.

Leading up to the two-match test series against New Zealand, Robinson became well known as a prolific wicket tacker, at the time having 279 first-class wickets to his name at an average of 21.04.

It was felt for a while that Robinson was on the brink of an England debut but with a plethora of England pace bowlers also staking their claim, the fast-bowler had to wait until the 2nd of June to make his test debut.

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What makes Ollie Robinson dangerous?

The first thing most Australian’s should notice about Ollie Robinson’s bowling action is that it looks very familiar, and that’s because it is a near spitting image to that of a current Australian test bowler in Josh Hazlewood.

This is eerily coincidental given that both Robinson and Hazlewood have played together in the past.

When traveling with his partner in 2017-18, Robinson took the opportunity to play some cricket in Australia at club level. The club he played for was Sydney based, St George, the same side that produced Hazlewood.

“Josh gave me my cap on my debut for them,” said Robinson as reported by BBC Sport.

“I’d never met (Hazlewood), but we sat next to each other all 90 overs while we were batting, chatting bowling.”

Like Hazlewood, Robinson is a serial wicket-taker. In fact, Robinson has Hazlewood covered in bowling averages in first-class cricket, as well test cricket, keeping in consideration that England bowler has just the five test matches to his name.

Since his test debut, Robinson has easily been the standout pace bowler for England and looks to be the man to lead the English attack in their post Anderson/Broad era.

Since Ollie Robinson made his test debut for England against New Zealand, he has taken far more wickets than any other English bowler, at the second-highest strike rate, and maintained the second-best bowling economy with the ever reliable James Anderson remaining the most economic.

Whilst it’s only been a small sample size, the sample is from matches against the two highest-ranked test nations in the world being New Zealand and India so it carries much weight.

Robinson has taken at least two wickets in nine out of the ten test innings’ in his career, keeping in mind that in the innings he didn’t do so, he had only bowled four overs. Additionally bagging two five-wicket innings’, it is clear that Robinson has the ability to bowl well consistently in test cricket and become one of the elite bowlers.

With Jofra Archer recovering from injury, his return to the test side in time could see him and Robinson take the reins from Broad and Anderson as England’s dynamic bowling duo.

Robinson’s recent rise has perhaps gone fairly unknown to many Australian’s, plenty of which will be learning off him for the first time this summer.

But for now, it could be a fairly unpleasant surprise for the Australian fans as they’ll realise that there’s more to worry about beyond Anderson and Broad, as the Australian batters will also come to learn.

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