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    Ollie Robinson blows Yorkshire out of the water to re-enter the England picture
Ollie Robinson blows Yorkshire out of the water to re-enter the England picture
Ollie Robinson. Source: telegraph.co.uk

Ollie Robinson blows Yorkshire out of the water to re-enter the England picture

Ben Stokes, Zak Crawley, and the Sussex paceman have their greatest season to yet in the County Championship.

Ollie Robinson bowled promotion-chasing Sussex to victory over winless Yorkshire, delivering his best performance of the season, just as the England selectors had requested.

 It was a good day for the selector, who are starting to assemble their team for the opening Test of the summer. In his first match back as a full-time all-rounder, Ben Stokes took his first five-wicket haul in any form of cricket since 2018. Meanwhile, Zak Crawley ended a quiet season by scoring his highest score for Kent, a typically elegant 238.

However, Robinson's four for 42 would have pleased Rob Key and his colleagues more than anything else, particularly considering James Anderson's impending Test retirement. Key recently stated, “We have been pretty clear with Ollie. When he is at his best he is a very good bowler. When he’s not, down at 78 or 79mph, he goes back into the pack.”

Robinson hasn't been at his fastest in recent Test matches, but at Hove, he opened the scoring with a sharp bouncer to Adam Lyth for 73. With four wickets remaining, the former England opener had led Yorkshire to 25 runs below their goal of 183. However, Robinson removed Lyth, who was caught behind, and in his subsequent over, he bowled Dom Leech, who was caught by a nip-backer, and dismissed Jordan Thompson, who also fell to the bumper after Jack Carson made an outstanding catch.

Shortly after, Robinson was hit by a well-executed yorker from Matt Revis, but Ben Coad was caught trying to steal a single. Yorkshire lost the match by 21 runs after losing four wickets for three runs.

“I thought Ollie Robinson bowled magnificently in this game,” noted the Sussex captain John Simpson. “He looks back to where he should be, knocking on that Test door. That was terrific bowling by him at the end.”

With six of their 14 games completed, Division Two favourites Yorkshire are now pointless and trail leaders Sussex by 33. This is true even though Joe Root and Harry Brook have each been available for five matches for Yorkshire thus far. In this low-scoring thriller at Hove, Root hit 67 in the opening innings before being leg-before wicket for 10 against Danny Lamb in the chase.

In Lancashire's second innings at Blackpool, Stokes got five wickets for 98 against Durham, a clear indication that he is getting back to full fitness following a protracted knee injury. Since going five for 52 for Durham against Gloucestershire six years prior, this was his first five-wicket haul.

Keaton Jennings, who had scored his second century of the game as relegation-threatened Lancashire gave Durham an unlikely 475 to win, was among his wickets this time. Stokes still has work to do as they reached stumps 134 for three, and the addition of Nathan Lyon in Lancashire's ranks makes that task much more difficult.

Ryan Campbell, the Durham coach, was nonetheless in awe of Stokes' efforts. “I wanted to go out and tackle Ben [Stokes],” the Australian remarked. “He’s playing his first game back and he just keeps bowling. But that’s the beauty of Ben Stokes and I truly hope that when the time comes for Ben to walk away from this game, I hope England cricket understands what you’ve got because that bloke is just a beast. He never gives up, he just wants to bowl and bowl and bowl and he’s such a skilful bowler. When he doesn’t bowl, it’s a whole different England team and I have no doubt you have a lot to look forward to. At Durham, we just treasure the time we have with him.”

Even after Crawley's magnificent innings, Kent still has a lot of work ahead of them. In their first innings against Somerset, they were asked to follow on 366 behind, and on day three, they were 409 for five at stumps. Before being removed in a rush of wickets late in the day, Crawley, who had made just 67 runs in seven innings this season, blasted 31 fours and four sixes in his innings, sharing 194 with Ben Compton and 184 with Daniel Bell-Drummond. Following two wickets taken by Jack Leach, Crawley was out to the new ball.

Champions Surrey defeated Worcestershire at the Oval, picking up 19 points to record their fourth straight victory. Worcestershire put up a valiant fight, going from 102 for eight to 231 all out, but they were crushed by 281 runs as Surrey increased their advantage at the top of the table. The great Australian seamer Dan Worrall, who will be eligible to play in England in the spring, had an incredible match total of 10 for 57.

There will be thrilling finishes at Trent Bridge and Chelmsford. After forcing Warwickshire to make a 340 target, Essex battled their way back into the game by bowling them out for 94. With six wickets remaining, they need 106 more to win. Additionally, Hampshire is 84 for five against Nottinghamshire, who Dillon Pennington once again impressed, chasing 169. Due to a shoulder injury, teenage batsman Tom Prest hasn't played since the first day of the season, which could make Hampshire's task more challenging.

Australia's Marnus Labuschagne scored a century in his first-ever match, which enabled Glamorgan to mount a comeback against Middlesex. With Labuschagne and Colin Ingram both making hundreds, Glamorgan had a lead of over 100 and a chance to win the match on the last day.

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