Ben Stokes reveals Ollie Robinson fitness battle behind England Test recall – The Independent

The Sussex seamer replaces Matthew Potts for the second Test against South Africa at Old Trafford
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England’s Ollie Robinson during a nets session at Emirates Old Trafford (Nigel French/PA Images).
Ben Stokes has revealed Ollie Robinson pushed himself “to the absolute extreme” to win back his England place after concerns were raised over his fitness for international cricket.
Robinson has replaced Durham’s Matthew Potts in the attack for the must-win second Test against South Africa at Old Trafford, his first appearance in seven frustrating months.
The Sussex seamer last played in the final match of last winter’s Ashes, a series that saw his conditioning publicly called into question by bowling coach Jon Lewis as he struggled to meet the full demands of the five-day game.
He’s worked hard behind the scenes
He was reduced to a watching brief in the subsequent tour of the West Indies, ruled out of all three Tests due to back spasms, and had an interrupted start to the county season due to a variety of unrelated issues.
England were never likely to give up on the 28-year-old, not with 39 wickets from his first nine appearances and an enviable average of 21.28, but they needed to know he was willing to put in the hard yards they required to restore faith.
A strong showing for England Lions during their recent tour match against the Proteas confirmed he was in more robust shape and Stokes paid tribute to his efforts after confirming his recall.
“I was very honest and truthful with Robbo. I feel that’s something people deserve. Rather than just have a conversation and getting through it easy, I’d rather let him know exactly where I stand,” he said of the pair’s initial exchanges.
“That enabled him to go away and work on what has been asked of him. All I can say is he’s done that to the absolute extreme. He’s worked hard behind the scenes.
“I think it’s obviously been a very difficult time for Ollie because it wasn’t that his form was letting him down. It was his body. That’s obviously a very tough thing to deal with. But I think he can look back on that and use it as something to always to look back on and to gain experience from that.
“He’s here in the team and he’s playing this week. So everything that’s gone on in the past is something that he’s obviously grown from, and he’s learned a lot from about himself. Not just as a person but as a player.”
Stokes also made a point of feeding Robinson’s confidence, adding: “I stayed in contact with him quite a lot throughout this period and just told him that any team that he plays for is very lucky to have him because of what he possesses as a bowler. He thoroughly deserves this. And I can’t wait for him to go out there and show what it’s all about.”
Robinson’s return meant a return to the sidelines for Potts, who announced himself in style earlier this summer when England’s lengthy injury list opened the door for a fast-track debut.
He took his excellent early-season form with Durham into a quartet of victories over New Zealand and India, but was short of rhythm in last week’s innings defeat at Lord’s.
Stokes made it clear Robinson was preferred on a horses-for-courses basis, with his height and high release likely to extract more bounce from a traditionally lively surface, and praised Potts’ mature reaction to being stood down.
“It’s very tough for Matty to miss out, but what he’s done in the five games that he’s played is he’s taken himself from a county cricketer with a lot of promise and really announced himself on the big stage,” he said.
“The selection was based around what we thought was the best bowling attack to suit this particular ground and he completely understood that. For a 23-year-old to understand the bigger picture of what we’re trying to achieve here and not be throwing his toys out the pram was honestly something that I think shouldn’t be overlooked.”
As expected, and with no other specialist openers in the group, England retained top-order pair Zak Crawley and Alex Lees. The pair have both been light on big runs this summer and, with respective averages of 24.81 and 26.06, are in need of runs in Manchester.
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England’s Ollie Robinson during a nets session at Emirates Old Trafford (Nigel French/PA Images).
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1 thought on “Ben Stokes reveals Ollie Robinson fitness battle behind England Test recall – The Independent”

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