How Flintoff and McGrath helped inspire England's new bowler on the block
Sussex star Ollie Robinson says he can’t wait to link up with his England teammates after being selected in the 15-man squad for the Test series against New Zealand.
The 27-year old will be hoping to make his full debut for his country having been placed on standby on a number of occasions previously.
“It feels great to be named,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working towards now for 18 months to two years and it’s nice to finally be named in the squad and I can’t wait to meet up with the lads and get going. It feels slightly different than times before because I’ve only been a reserve.
“In that situation, you’re almost just waiting for someone to maybe get injured really and it didn’t really feel like I was close, or that it was the right way to get in the team. So this time actually being in the 15-man squad and being that much closer, it’s a bit more satisfying and hopefully, if I make my debut it will be even better."
New Zealand have been recently ranked second-best team in the world, and Robinson is expecting a difficult two-match series.
“New Zealand are a very very good side, they’re ranked number two in the world at the moment. They’ve got every basis covered from bat and ball to left arm and right arm, so it’s going to be a fairly stiff test.
“Being only a two-match series, there’s no sort of let-up so we have to get going straight away. If you lose the first test, you’re almost out of it really, so we know it’s going to be tough, we know they’re a world-class side, and we’ve just got to be prepared for that really.”
The Sussex squad features many international cricketers, and Robinson revealed he has already been receiving advice from his colleagues.
“James Kirtley said to me to ‘make sure you go at 100 miles per hour straight away.’ He also said the thing he noticed when he played for England was that the speed of the game is a lot quicker. So I think the general advice is to not leave anything behind and that I give 110 per cent all the time which I will. I’ll also ensure that I’m on it straight away.”
Being selected to play for a national team is potentially the proudest moment in a cricketer’s career, however, Robinson explained how it was a straightforward process.
“Basically I got a call from Chris Silverwood just saying ‘congratulations, you’ve been selected for the squad.’ Since then we’ve been liaising with management about meet-ups and I’ve got a few training days before we get started so it’s a very exciting time.”
When James Anderson, still in the England camp now of course, made his debut for England, Robinson was only 12 years old, but it was another Three Lions legend and an Australian great that inspired the all-rounder the most.
“For me, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was my role model as a youngster. He batted and bowled and he had that ability to change games in an instant. It’s sort of how I’ve tried to play my cricket, that really hard style, and with that desire to really want to win. I’ve tried to put my body on the line to win and that was the sort of cricketer he was as well.
“I’d say a little later on I was inspired by Glenn McGrath when I started bowling a bit more. I admired his consistency and his action so those two were the ones I grew up watching and tried to emulate.”
It’s been a somewhat stop-start season for Sussex this season, but Robinson believes there’s a great potential to the squad that will eventually berth championships for the Hove based club.
“I feel like it’s been a positive season so far. The results may not show that but the average age of our side is 22/23 and you probably won’t find many sides around the country younger than that at the moment.
“I think the positive side of it is that they’ve all at some point during the last four or five games contributed to the teams’ effort and I think as such a young side, it’s such a valuable learning curve to have these games. I think if we can keep this crop of players together for three, four, five years hopefully in time, we’ll see championship-winning sides for Sussex.
“I’ve seen it all first hand, every member of this squad is capable of winning championships and scoring big 100s and taking wickets in games. It’s now about mentoring them through it and teaching them along the way. I think a huge factor in that is James Kirtley coming in as it’s freshened things up and I think they’re keen on getting the youth to take responsibility and pushing that through.”
The first England-New Zealand Test - at Lord's - starts next Wednesday, June 2, and Sussex fans will hope Robinson will be given the opportunity to prove his quality on the international stage.