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Ryan Sidebottom: Criticism of Ollie Robinson was upsetting – he needed England game-time first

Ollie Robinson feels the heat
Ollie Robinson struggled on his return to the England Test side - Getty Images/Philip Brown

Ollie Robinson has been backed to regain his form after a difficult return to Test cricket this week, as former England quick Ryan Sidebottom said he should not have been thrust in without a warm-up fixture.

In the fourth Test against India in Ranchi, Robinson went wicketless and dropped a catch in his first cricket of any form since July, but did score a vital half-century. Sidebottom, the former left-arm swing bowler, believes Robinson shares a trait with him, of needing game-time to hit his top intensity. He believes he should have played a game for England Lions.

“I was not disappointed, but I was quite upset by the numerous comments about his bowling and him being out of form,” Sidebottom told the Vaughany and Tuffers Cricket Club Podcast. “There’s no number one villain in any team if someone’s not performed how they should.

“For me, you can bowl in the nets all you want. It doesn’t matter. You need to play games. You need time in the middle, as a batter, as a bowler, you need to get some overs under your belt. Just to thrust him in when he’s been carrying drinks and probably doing lots of fitness to then go into a very high-pressure situation, England needing to win, to then put the onus on him.

“He needs time, he needs to bowl, he’s definitely the type of bowler that needs to get into a rhythm and feel good, and have the ball in his hand for numerous overs to... to feel good about himself. You look at his record, it’s fantastic, isn’t it?

“I would just say, Robinson sometimes... maybe I’d like to see his body language a little bit better. He’s in a such a fortunate position. Go out there and play with a smile on your face. Give it everything. And sometimes it looks a bit like he’s disinterested. And I kind of understand where people are coming from with that. But he needs to bowl.

“It’s immensely tough. Also when you’re in the net situation, the intensity levels, however much you want to try and replicate that, is never going to be at Test-match level. And also, like you say, you have to come back and bowl important overs at difficult times and you don’t do that in net sessions.”

‘I’d be really peed off’

Sidebottom also pleaded with England to temper their all-action approach with the bat in order to give their bowlers more rest.

“I’d be really peed off if that was the case, especially second innings,” he said. “I’d be really annoyed. The hair would be flying everywhere, the face would be bright red, and I’d be really frustrated.

“I think if I was a bowling unit, there has to be some point where you’ve got to say something to the batters and go, ‘look, lads, they’re a very talented group, but sometimes, you’ve got to find the balance between attacking and playing Test-match cricket and reading the situation and what type of situation you’re in’.

“I think getting bowled out, especially second innings for those little overs, is not ideal for the bowlers. When you get no rest, the pressure’s on you anyway. In any Test match, you’re under pressure even more, you know, to try and find or eke out a result, which is always very difficult when your team’s not gone on and got you a decent total.

“I really believe that sometimes you have to hold your hands up and go ‘we play in this style of cricket’. Everybody wants us to play this style of cricket, but there comes a point where we have to perform throughout the whole Test match and not just one innings or two innings.”

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