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    Ollie Robinson Acknowledges Fair Criticism, Confident in Therapy-assisted Return to England's Spotlight
Ollie Robinson Acknowledges Fair Criticism, Confident in Therapy-assisted Return to England's Spotlight
Ollie Robinson. Source: News9live

Ollie Robinson Acknowledges Fair Criticism, Confident in Therapy-assisted Return to England's Spotlight

His statistics are comparable to those of the greatest fast bowlers, making him an obvious candidate to replace Stuart Broad in the permanent lineup of the England cricket team. However, Ollie Robinson enters the new season with serious doubts about his future with the England team, rather than being seen as the solution to the void left by the retired Broad.

In essence, Robinson must demonstrate not only his skill, but also his determination, passion, and physical fitness to earn a place in the England team again, especially during the upcoming Test series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. It is a daunting task to fill the distinguished shoes of Broad.

Robinson is aware of this reality. He acknowledges that he stands at a crucial juncture in his successful England career, particularly remembering his impressive performance in Pakistan 18 months ago, where he appeared to be the epitome of an ideal English seam bowler. However, he has experienced numerous setbacks, often caused by his actions, both on and off the field.

County Championship. Source: https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/2452018
County Championship. Source: https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/2452018

Recognising the obstacles

A visibly fitter Robinson will commence the County Championship season for Sussex against Northants. He acknowledges that he has frequently been his own worst enemy due to his words and behaviour, but he is determined to demonstrate that he genuinely cares deeply about his England career, which now hangs in the balance.

The most recent of those setbacks occurred during England's loss to India earlier this year when he sustained another back injury while running a single while batting alongside Joe Root in his sole appearance of the series during the fourth Test in Ranchi. As a result, he subsequently bowled at a pace more suitable for club matches rather than international competition.

This incident added to existing concerns about his fitness at the highest level, which, along with the controversy surrounding past tweets that surfaced on his Test debut and his tendency to engage in poorly timed sledging, have overshadowed his exceptional bowling skills. Despite taking 76 wickets at an impressive average of 22 runs per wicket in his 20 Tests, Robinson's performance has been marred by these issues.

Speaking candidly and openly at Hove while preparing for the domestic season, which is crucial for his future with the England team, Robinson acknowledged the importance of this summer. He expressed the belief that he would no longer receive leniency and emphasised the need to perform well, stay injury-free, and prove himself as the best bowler for the job. He recognises that this period is likely to make or break his career. ‘I’m 30 now and in a sport that’s not young anymore, I feel this is the last summer when I will get any slack. Going forward I have to perform, I have to be injury-free and prove I’m the best bowler for the job,’ said a brutally honest Ollie.

Undoubtedly, Robinson's highly disappointing performance in India, following a previous back injury that prevented him from participating in the Ashes last summer, as well as other problems during tours in Australia and the West Indies, has left him with a significant point to prove.

Robinson admitted that he welcomes the challenge and considers it a driving force that motivates him and stimulates his focus. While he already possesses a strong drive, having such a substantial point to prove demands even greater concentration to prevent everything from slipping away.

Robinson's perceived lack of ambition and his ability to attract attention for negative reasons, such as his use of foul language in a confrontation with Usman Khawaja, have contributed to certain perceptions of him. Last summer, he angered Australian cricket legends, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden, with Ponting expressing his displeasure at being mentioned by Robinson as someone who used to be vocal on the field, while Hayden colourfully accused Robinson of bowling at a slow pace.

‘I haven’t lost too much sleep over what the Australians have said to be honest,’ said Robinson. ‘A few of my mates have sent those comments to me, laughing and stuff, and I do enjoy that side of things. Sometimes I say these things to drive me forward.’

However, he acknowledges that when he speaks out a lot and fails to deliver, he should expect criticism. It can make him appear foolish when his words don't materialise, but all he can do is strive to improve.

Part of his goal is to change people's perceptions of him. He acknowledges that it's challenging because he can't see himself from an outside perspective. He believes that if he could, he might have similar thoughts about himself as others do. ‘If I could see myself I’d probably think similar things about myself to other people but in my head and my heart, I’m giving everything I’ve got,’ mentioned Ollie.

Ollie Robinson. Source: Sky Sports
Ollie Robinson. Source: Sky Sports

Steps for improvement

He faithfully follows the fitness program provided by England and does everything he's asked to do. He admits that he may come across as too laid-back or relaxed at times, but he believes that his approach has contributed to his success.

Playing for England is his true passion, and it's the only thing he genuinely cares about. He is actively working to alter the perception that he sometimes doesn't care.

During the fourth Test in India, he was preoccupied with his back issues, which made it difficult to concentrate on the game. He was in significant pain, and it affected his performance. He had been bowling well in practice sessions, but the injuries kept nagging him.

The possibility that there may be a psychological component to his back injuries, coupled with the challenges he faced in his personal life (such as the breakup with his fiancée and entering a new relationship with Mia Baker, a golf social media influencer), has led Robinson to seek professional assistance.

Baker accompanied Robinson throughout the majority of their tour in India, providing constant support. However, their decision to start a podcast called 'Chatting Balls' was met with disapproval from influential individuals within the hierarchy. Robinson has faced media scrutiny in his personal life and suspects that these events may be connected. He is currently undergoing therapy and seeking assistance from the appropriate sources.

In his autobiography, Broad remarked that Ollie does not spend enough time on the field. Robinson acknowledges that he has a long way to go to fill the shoes of a legendary player, stating that the former cannot be replaced. Nevertheless, Robinson aims to secure his place in the team and establish his own legacy during the upcoming summer season. It is worth noting that Robinson still enjoys support from a significant figure, England captain Ben Stokes, who holds him in high regard. Stokes was disappointed when the team's former fast bowling coach, Jon Lewis, publicly criticised Robinson's fitness towards the end of the previous Ashes series.

Robinson appreciates the unwavering support he has received from Stokes, regardless of his performance. He considers Stokes to be a dependable ally and someone he can rely on. Robinson is aware that public opinion can quickly turn against a player after a single poor performance, but Stokes has remained supportive and grounded him during both good and bad times. Robinson finds this support to be immensely meaningful and is determined to repay Stokes and the entire England team.

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