He had taken his first Test five-fer in only his second match – but Ollie Robinson, suspended after the discovery of offensive tweets he posted nine years ago, admitted that in June he feared his England career was over. “There was a time when I was speaking with my lawyers and we were looking at the fact I could be banned for a couple of years and never play for England again,” said Robinson at the close of day three.
“In a couple of years I’d have turned 30 and someone else might have come in and taken my spot. So there was definitely a time I had doubts over my career, but luckily it all came good today.”
The pace bowler said he would cherish his performance at Trent Bridge as a proud moment for both him and his family, and that the weeks following his debut against New Zealand had been the toughest he’d faced in his life. “It affected not only myself but my family and obviously I’ve learnt a lot since that and really realised the scrutiny of Test cricket.”
After investigating the tweets – written when Robinson was a “young, naive guy” who was poorly behaved enough at Yorkshire to get himself sacked – the ECB handed him an eight-match ban, three of which had already been served, the other five suspended for two years. After all the adverse publicity his debut had generated, his selection for this first game of the series was an opportunity for him to change the story: and he did it, with five wickets for 85 in India’s first innings.
“Everyone at England was very good and they did put their arm round me and help me through a tough situation,” said Robinson. “But obviously it was important for me to show everyone I’m the real deal on the field and try and get the scrutiny off me.” The bowler has also been working with the Professional Cricketers’ Association both to educate himself and to try to help others from making the same mistakes he did.
Like several England players, Robinson came into the Test with little match practice – he has played only two T20 games for Sussex since June, having pulled out of The Hundred when he was recalled to the Test side. And despite his efforts, it has proved a frustrating couple of days for England’s bowlers, with rain delays forcing them on and off the field, and KL Rahul sticking doggedly to the crease.
“Obviously they were batting well, pretty defensive,” agreed Robinson, who could be seen giving Rahul the occasional word of advice. “I was trying to get KL especially to play some shots against us.” The fact that Robinson was unafraid to return to the arena in his naturally aggressive guise was an encouraging sign of his resilience. “I know there’s a long road ahead and the hard work’s not done,” he said. “But it’s nice to get the rewards today.”