Ollie Robinson: How watching Jimmy Anderson helped me take 9 for 78

When I took eight against Middlesex in 2019, I thought it was going to be tough to ever beat those figures, writes Sussex pace bowler Ollie Robinson.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 8:00 am
Ollie Robinson gets among the wickets against Glamorgan / Picture: Getty

And I definitely didn’t think I’d do it at Glamorgan No-one – myself included - thought nine wickets was on the cards. It was such a flat pitch and both sides struggled to take wickets for long periods.

I was picking up one or two in a spell, and then after lunch on the last day, the ball started reversing. Suddenly, for the first time in the game I felt like I could get a few wickets quickly. And I end up with nine! Even now it feels a bit surreal, really.

The thing about reverse swing is that, once it starts to happen, there’s immediately doubt for the batsmen. As soon as the ball starts to go, the two batsmen in the middle start to say to each other, ‘it’s reversing. Which way is it going to go?’

Ollie Robinson appeals at Cardiff / Picture: Getty

Straight away, you’ve got one up on them, because they start to play differently before the ball even starts moving that much. On a flat wicket, like the one at Glamorgan, both batters were in and probably feeling pretty comfortable and more relaxed than normal, and the reverse swing catches them off guard. That’s when you get them.

I learned a lot about reverse swing over the winter with England in the sub-continent. The conditions are made for it – very dry and abrasive. I learned a lot out there – how to get it going, how to keep it reversing. I watched how Jimmy and Broady do it.

Jimmy runs up with the ball in his left hand when the balls reversing, so the batter can’t see which way he’s going to bowl it. I did that against Glamorgan, and it stops you giving any clues to the batsman as to which way it is going to go.

Being able to reverse the ball is just one thing I’ve worked really hard on to make sure I’m not pigeon-holed as just a typical English seamer. I’ve been training with SG balls and Kookaburra balls in the winter, getting used to the and learning to bowl on flatter pitches. Fitness is another thing, because you do have to work harder and run in harder when it is not doing as much.

After coming off at Cardiff, I didn’t look at my phone for about half an hour because I was watching the chase – the batting chase, not the TV programme! – and was a bit nervous.

When I did get my phone out it was crazy. A hundred messages, a couple of hundred whatsapps, Twitter was outrageous with people posting and writing messages. I couldn’t keep up with it.

Chris Silverwood messaged me to say ‘well bowled’, which was nice. Jon Lewis, Mo Bobat as well. Jos Buttler from India and a lot of the other England lads.

I’ve not had a huge amount of chat with England, though. There’s fitness testing two weeks before the New Zealand series where they’ll get the results from everyone around the country and then they’ll pick a bio-secure squad. But I’m just trying to take wickets for Sussex.

Even now with people talking about England more. I just enjoy being with the lads and trying to get the wins at the moment, which I think is a good thing for me as it stops me thinking too far ahead. Obviously, if England comes off the back of it, then I’ll be chuffed.