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Ollie Robinson puts himself back in England frame by blowing Yorkshire away

Ollie Robinson celebrates taking a wicket
Ollie Robinson took four for 42 to win the match for Sussex against Yorkshire - Sussex CCC

Ollie Robinson did exactly what the England selectors have asked of him, producing his finest spell of the season so far to bowl promotion-chasing Sussex to victory over winless Yorkshire.

This was a fine day for the selectors as they begin to map out their squad for the first Test of the summer. Ben Stokes took his first five-wicket haul in any cricket since 2018 in his first game back as a full-time all-rounder, and Zak Crawley put a quiet start to the season behind him with a typically stylish 238, his highest score for Kent.

But nothing will have pleased Rob Key and his colleagues quite like Robinson’s four for 42, especially in the context of James Anderson’s imminent Test retirement. “We have been pretty clear with Ollie,” Key said recently. “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.”

In recent Test appearances, Robinson has not been at his quickest but at Hove, he blew the game open with a swift bouncer to Adam Lyth for 73. The former England opener had taken Yorkshire to 25 short of their target of 183, with four wickets in hand. But Robinson bounced out Lyth, who was caught behind, then dismissed Jordan Thompson – who also fell to the bumper, with Jack Carson taking a brilliant catch – and Dom Leech, bowled by a nip-backer, in his next over.

Minutes later, Matt Revis dug out a well-directed yorker from Robinson, but Ben Coad was run out trying to sneak a single. Yorkshire had lost four wickets for three runs, and lost the match by 21 runs.

“I thought Ollie Robinson bowled magnificently in this game,” said 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.”

This means that Division Two favourites Yorkshire are winless having played six of their 14 matches, and sit 33 points behind leaders Sussex. This despite Yorkshire having Harry Brook and Joe Root available for five matches each so far. Root made 67 in the first innings in this low-scoring thriller at Hove, but fell lbw to Danny Lamb for 10 in the chase.

Stokes took five for 98 for Durham in Lancashire’s second innings at Blackpool, a sure sign that he is returning to full fitness after his long-standing knee issue. This was his first five-wicket haul since his five for 52 for Durham against Gloucestershire six years ago.

Ben Stokes bowls against Lancashire
Ben Stokes is returning to full fitness after his knee injury - Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Among his wickets this time was Keaton Jennings, who had made his second century of the match as relegation-threatened Lancashire set Durham an improbable 475 to win. As they reached stumps 134 for three, Stokes still has work to do, a task made much harder by the presence of Nathan Lyon in Lancashire’s ranks.

Even so, Durham coach Ryan Campbell was amazed by Stokes’ efforts. “I wanted to go out and tackle Ben [Stokes],” the Australian said. “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 understand 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.”

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Despite Crawley’s epic innings, his Kent side also still have much to do. They were asked to follow on 366 behind on first innings against Somerset, and reached stumps on day three 409 for five. Crawley, who had made just 67 runs in seven innings this season, hit 31 fours and four sixes in his innings, which saw him share 194 with Ben Compton and 184 with Daniel Bell-Drummond, before falling among a flurry of wickets late in the day. Crawley fell to the new ball after Jack Leach picked up two wickets.

At the Oval, Champions Surrey notched their fourth win in succession, taking 19 points from their victory over Worcestershire. While Worcestershire’s resisted bravely – taking them from 102 for eight to 231 all out – they were still thumped by 281 runs, as Surrey extended their lead atop the table. Dan Worrall, the outstanding Australian seamer who qualifies for England next spring, took remarkable match figures of 10 for 57.

‌At Chelmsford and Trent Bridge, there are final-day thrillers in store. Essex need 106 more for victory, with six wickets in hand, having clawed their way back into the match by bowling Warwickshire out for 94, limiting their target to 320. And Hampshire are 84 for five chasing 169 against Nottinghamshire, for whom Dillon Pennington again impressed. Hampshire’s task may be made more difficult by the fact that young batsman Tom Prest has not taken the field since the opening day due to a shoulder issue.

In his first game of the season, Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne’s hundred helped Glamorgan fight back against Middlesex. Labuschagne had Colin Ingram both made centuries to give Glamorgan a lead of more than 100 and a chance of saving the game on the final day.

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