Alex Tudor backs Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum to inspire Ollie Robinson

By Sports Desk March 03, 2024

Ollie Robinson should have all the motivation he needs under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum to get back to firing on all cylinders, according to former England seamer Alex Tudor.

Robinson’s fitness issues surfaced once more in Ranchi as a twinge in his troublesome back meant he was down on pace, sending down just 13 wicketless overs in the fourth Test and unused in India’s chase of 192 as the hosts went 3-1 ahead in the five-match series.

Despite an outstanding record of 76 wickets at an average of 22.92 in 20 outings, there is again scrutiny at whether Robinson’s body can withstand the rigours of Test cricket.

His previous competitive appearance was seven months ago – when a back spasm shortened his involvement – and a seamer described as the heir apparent to Stuart Broad now seems at a crossroads in his career.

Tudor was a keen observer of Robinson’s underwhelming return in his role as a talkSPORT commentator and sympathises with the 30-year-old, as several injuries restricted him to 10 Tests between 1998 and 2002.

But Tudor hopes Robinson can rediscover his mojo and argued there is no greater incentive for him than the chance to play under the relaxed environment cultivated by captain Stokes and head coach McCullum.

“His place is definitely up for debate, which you wouldn’t have said a year or so ago,” Tudor told the PA news agency.

“He’s a quality performer but he’s having a few issues with lasting a Test match. I’m sure he’ll want to sort this out because playing in and around this team, it’s what any cricketer would want.

“England are full of positivity under Ben Stokes, who backs his team to the hilt, the same with Brendon McCullum. The atmosphere that they’re creating, any sportsperson would want to be a part of that.

“I’m sure Ollie Robinson is no different but it’s for him to get it sorted to get his body right and show everybody what he can do.”

England are due to arrive into Dharamsala on Sunday ahead of the fifth Test, starting on Thursday, with conditions expected to be wetter and cooler than what they have so far experienced on this tour.

There has been persistent rain and hail showers in recent days in the small city at the foothills of the Himalayas in north India although the weather is forecast to brighten up ahead of the Test.

Fast bowlers could therefore be called upon more at the HPCA Stadium, with James Anderson expected to shrug off a minor thigh issue to play as he looks for two more wickets to take him to 700 in Tests.

“It will be another milestone in a glittering career,” Tudor said of the 41-year-old seamer. “I don’t think he would have ever dreamed of the haul of wickets he’d get when he first got into the team.

“Getting to 700 wickets will be a fantastic milestone and one that I think no other seamer will get near again. Jimmy’s really shown the next generation how to go about things.”

Tudor first met Anderson during the 2002/03 Ashes tour, with England’s now record wicket-taker then a shy 20-year-old as part of the ‘A’ team. Anderson made his international debut soon after.

“Quite early on, the England team knew what they had,” Tudor added. “It would be foolish of me to say ‘I knew straight away he was going to have this illustrious career’.

“But he’s evolved with the times, got better with age and got better and better. The biggest compliment I can give is I regard (ex-West Indies fast bowler) Malcolm Marshall as the greatest of all-time but Jimmy’s like the English version of Malcolm Marshall because he gets wickets all around the world.”

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