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.”

West Indies captain Hayley Matthews had only a small role to play, as her Mumbai Indians team registered a comfortable seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore to assume pole position of the Women’s Premier League at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, on Saturday.

Matthews, who made 55 in a losing cause on last, got a fairly decent start, and though she failed to push on, it mattered little, as Mumbai Indians made light work of the modest target set by Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Chasing 132, Mumbai Indians got to their target with 29 balls to spare, with Matthews contributing a brisk 21-ball 26.

She struck three fours and a solitary six in a 45-run opening stand with Yastika Bhatia, which laid the foundation for the run chase. Bhatia lashed a 15-ball 31. 

Matthews added a further 24 runs for the second wicket with captain Nat Sciver-Brunt (27), before holing out to cover off-spinner Shreyanka Patil.

From there, it was left for New Zealander Amelia Kerr to apply the finish with a snappy 40 off 24 balls, including seven fours, that fuelled an important 49-run third wicket partnership with Sciver-Brunt.

Earlier, RCB stumbled their way to 131 for six off their 20 overs after being sent in, Australian Ellyse Perry holding the innings together with an unbeaten 44 off 38 balls.

With the innings in trouble at 42 for four in the ninth over, Perry put on 29 for the fifth wicket with fellow countrywoman Sophie Molineux (12), before adding a further 51 for the seventh wicket with another international teammate Georgia Wareham, who made 27 from 20 deliveries.

The win was Mumbai’s third in four games, putting them top of the standings on six points.

New Zealand kept their hopes in the first Test alive as Glenn Phillips took five wickets to bowl Australia out and set a target of 369 on the third day in Wellington.

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was the unlikely top scorer for Australia, falling on 41 with his first Test 50 in sight.

Cameron Green continued his form with 34, but all-rounder Phillips spun his way to five wickets and was on a hat-trick after removing Travis Head for 29 and dismissing Mitch Marsh with the next ball.

Phillips finished with 5-45 as Australia were all out for 164.

The Australians struck early in the Blackcaps innings, Lyon dismissing Tom Latham and Kane Williamson for single-digit scores, before part-timer Head removed Will Young for 15.

Rachin Ravindra (56 not out) and Daryl Mitchell (12 not out) dug in for the rest of the day.

Two days remain with New Zealand requiring 257 pull off what would be an incredible victory.

West Indian all-rounder Kyle Mayers produced a man of the match performance to help Fortune Barishal secure their first Bangladesh Premier League title with a six-wicket win over Comilla Victorians in the final at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Friday.

The Victorians, who entered Friday’s game seeking their third BPL title in a row and fifth overall, made 154-6 from their 20 overs after being put in to bat by Barishal.

Mahidul Islam Ankon was the top scorer for Comilla with a measured 35-ball 38 while Andre Russell provided some lower order excitement with 27 off 14 balls including four sixes.

James Fuller was expensive in his four overs, going for 43 while picking up a pair of wickets.

Mayers and Obed McCoy were both economical on the day with figures of 1-26 and 1-24 from four overs, respectively.

Barishal then needed only 19 overs to reach 157-4 and secure their maiden hold on the title.

Mayers completed a fine all-round display with a top score of 46 off 30 balls including five fours and two sixes.

Captain Tamim Iqbal, who was named the player of the tournament, made 39 off 26 balls including three fours and as many sixes at the top of the order.

His opening partner, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, also batted well for his 26-ball 29.

Mustafizur Rahman and Moeen Ali took a pair of wickets, each, for the Victorians.

Somerset will consider letting emerging England star Shoaib Bashir leave the club on loan this summer, with head coach Jason Kerr weighing up how best to manage the next step of the spinner’s career.

Bashir was fast-tracked into the Test squad in India after just six first-class matches and has quickly grown into his new surroundings, with 12 wickets in two mature outings for his country.

The 20-year-old has been identified as a player with significant long-term potential by the ECB, but with his path to first-team cricket at Taunton blocked by Jack Leach – currently recovering from knee surgery but still England’s first-choice slow bowler – his immediate future is less clear.

Test head coach Brendon McCullum said last week it would be “slightly mad” if Bashir and Lancashire’s Tom Hartley, who has Australia’s Nathan Lyon in his way at Old Trafford, were kept on the sidelines in the county season and Kerr appreciates the dilemma.

“It’s certainly not easy but I always try and put myself in the player’s shoes and what they want is to play cricket,” he told the PA news agency.

“Bash will be on cloud nine right now and riding that. He would have seen the world very differently at the start of the winter than he does now that he’s had international opportunities and done very well. So it’s important to have really honest, transparent conversations.

“We start the season on April 5th and I’d be surprised if too many teams are playing two specialist spinners so understand there will be some questions about it. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but what I’m not going to do is stand in the way of anyone’s opportunity.

“We will always do what is best for the player and we’ve done it time and time again. We’ve allowed people to go on loan and get some cricket because it can benefit them and us in the future, and we’ve said no to players because they’re next in line and we might need them.

“We will look at each case as it arises but, historically, we’ve been open to it.”

Bashir’s rapid rise effectively reprises the situation Somerset experienced when fellow off-spinner Dom Bess emerged. He and Leach began by working in tandem on turning pitches but, when Bess was elevated to the Test side, the pair eventually found themselves competing for one spot.

Leach held that berth, with Bess moving on to Yorkshire, and Kerr made it clear he retains full faith in a player who has given more than a decade of good service to Somerset.

“It’s important we see both of the guys bowling first but we also look at what Leachy has done for club and country over the years,” he said.

“We always want competition for places and we want it to be healthy. Nobody has the right to start but Jack has got a lot of experience and, from my side, that counts for a lot. Bash has so much time to grow and to become a world-class spinner who can bowl on all surfaces and know when to defend and attack. He’ll be coming back from India to very different conditions in the UK.

“We’re an incredibly ambitious club and we want to inspire players to represent England. We want to help them fulfil those aspirations and that doesn’t change whether it’s Shoaib or Jack.”

James Anderson might find conditions more to his liking as he bids to join Test cricket’s 700 club when England regroup for their final assignment of the tour of India next week.

England expect Anderson to be available for the fifth Test in Dharamsala, starting on Thursday, despite a sore thigh which limited his involvement on the last day of their five-wicket defeat in Ranchi.

India’s unassailable 3-1 series advantage leaves only pride and World Test Championship points at stake, but one sub-plot centres on England’s record wicket-taker Anderson.

The evergreen 41-year-old has advanced his tally from 690 to 698 in three outings in India, offering England his customary control on slow, low turners that have largely neutralised his wicket-taking threat.

But his attempt to become the third individual, after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan and the late Australian Shane Warne, and first fast bowler to reach 700 Test wickets could be aided in Dharamsala.

The HPCA Stadium in the foothills of the Himalayas is renowned as the best venue for seamers in India and is where the national team often goes to train in preparation for tours of England and Australia.

Temperatures in the area have struggled to get into double figures recently and, although the weather is forecast to improve next week, it is unlikely the mercury will get much above 15 degrees Celsius.

Local officials expect the crisp English-like conditions to play into Anderson’s hands, while a recall for express speedster Mark Wood is also on the cards, with the pitch expected to offer pace and bounce.

If Anderson’s quad injury turns out to be more serious, England could hand Gus Atkinson his Test debut, with Ollie Robinson poised to make way after his unflattering return to competitive action in Ranchi. Ben Stokes could supplement the pace bowlers after stepping up his workload in training recently.

There was plenty of carry and consistent movement seven years ago when the Dharamsala venue staged its only Test as India beat Australia, 18 of 30 wickets from bowlers falling to the spinners.

England are therefore likely to stick with Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir as their frontline spin options.

The ground was due to hold another India-Australia contest 12 months ago, but poor outfield conditions led to the Test being shifted to Indore, while the issue reared its head again at last year’s World Cup.

England’s players were cautious about diving in the outfield ahead of a group game against Bangladesh because of the uneven grass coverage and a sandy make-up, leading Jos Buttler to suggest the “integrity of the game” could be compromised.

However, a new drainage system has been installed in an effort to resolve the problem and officials are confident there will be no complaints this time from England, who are due to reassemble as a group on Monday.

Many of the squad are currently in Bangalore on a golfing trip, while Stokes, Wood, Bashir and Ben Foakes, plus the non-golfing members of the backroom staff, are in Chandigarh.

Jonny Bairstow is set to become the 17th member of England’s 100 Test club after head coach Brendon McCullum confirmed the Yorkshireman will feature against India in Dharamsala next week.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of Bairstow’s best moments as a Test cricketer.

South Africa v England, January 2016, Cape Town

 

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Bairstow had a number of false dawns, including a sparkling 95 in his fourth Test against the same opposition. Four years and 18 Tests later, Bairstow had his first international hundred but it was worth the wait. This Test is remembered for Ben Stokes going supersonic but Bairstow was no shrinking violet and contributed 150 not out to a world-record stand of 399 for the sixth wicket. A couple of days before the anniversary of the death of his father David – a former England and Yorkshire cricketer – Bairstow junior cemented his spot as a Test regular. Afterwards, he said: “I was thinking of my dad, my grandfather, who passed away last year, and my family – that was for those guys.”

England v Sri Lanka, May 2016, Leeds

Where else but Headingley should one of Yorkshire’s favourite sons make his first Test ton at home? England were teetering on 83 for five against opponents who shocked them two years earlier. Bairstow riding to the rescue was a common theme in 2016 – his 1,470 runs remain the most by a wicketkeeper in a calendar year – and England never looked back after his swaggering 140 in 183 balls. Bairstow hit another hundred at Lord’s with an unbeaten 167 as England romped to a 2-0 series win.

Sri Lanka v England, November 2018, Colombo

An ankle injury sustained in a football warm-up had the knock-on consequence of Bairstow surrendering the wicketkeeping gloves for a few months to Ben Foakes. Restored to the side as a specialist batter for the final Test and into England’s problem number three position, Bairstow defied Sri Lanka’s coterie of spinners and peeled off a masterful 110. Upon reaching three figures, a red-faced Bairstow let out an emotional roar and later hit out at those who had “castigated” him for the nature of his injury. Bairstow’s push up the order was short-lived but he helped England seal a famous 3-0 series whitewash.

England v New Zealand, June 2022, Trent Bridge

A career that had blown more cold than hot showed signs of flickering with a battling hundred in the previous winter’s Ashes that effectively spared England another 5-0 defeat. A lack of role clarity could perhaps partially explain Bairstow’s shortcomings but there was no second guessing what Stokes and McCullum wanted from him. Chasing 299 and with New Zealand resorting to bowling short, Stokes told Bairstow: “Don’t even think about trying to hit one down. Hit it into the stands.” Bairstow obliged in jaw-dropping fashion with seven sixes in a 77-ball hundred which threatened Gilbert Jessop’s long-standing record. After a run of low scores, Bairstow helped England over the line in emphatic fashion.

England v India, July 2022, Edgbaston

With a run of indifferent scores currently – he is yet to reach 40 in India – it cannot be forgotten Bairstow established himself as the early poster boy for the Stokes-McCullum era. After his Nottingham heroics, he blitzed another mammoth century at his beloved Headingley before his magnum opus in this format in Birmingham. Fired up by Virat Kohli’s sledging, Bairstow thumped 106 first time around in a Test rearranged from the previous summer. Then he and fellow Yorkie Joe Root put on an unbroken 269 as England eased to a national record chase of 378. Bairstow made an unbeaten 114, his sixth and final century of an astonishing 2022, where he averaged 66.31 before suffering an untimely badly broken leg.

A century last-wicket stand, a top-order collapse and a comedy of errors run out conspired to put Australia in control of the first Test against New Zealand.

Having had the visitors in early trouble on the first day in Wellington, the hosts saw last-wicket pair Cameron Green and Josh Hazlewood frustrate them for much of the morning session.

They then saw their top order blown away and only some counterattacking lower down got them within 204 runs of their visitors.

Having reached his century off the penultimate ball of day one, Green added another 71 runs as he reached a Test-best 174 not out – last man Hazlewood weighing in with 22 as they took the overnight score from 279 for nine to 383.

Mitchell Starc was first to strike in the New Zealand inning as he bowled Tom Latham for five before the hosts lost talismanic batsman Kane Williamson without scoring.

Williamson, who scored seven centuries in his last seven Tests, and Will Young collided in the middle of a quick single and Marnus Labuschagne’s direct hit sent the former captain packing.

Rachin Ravindra followed for a duck as he cut Hazlewood to Nathan Lyon, Young and Daryl Mitchell also departing cheaply to leave New Zealand 29-5.

Glenn Phillips hit a counterattacking 71 off 70 balls alongside Tom Blundell (33) but only Matt Henry’s 42 offered much more resistance, Lyon collecting four for 34 as the hosts were dismissed for 179.

Australia opted against enforcing the follow on and lost Steve Smith without scoring off the third ball, bowled by Tim Southee.

Southee struck again as Labuschagne’s poor run continued, caught behind for two, but Usman Khawaja and Lyon saw Australia through to stumps at 13-2 – a lead of 217.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Thursday confirmed the squads of the six regional teams participating in the 2024 CG United Women’s Super50 Cup and Twenty20 (T20) Blaze. 

The CG United Super50 Cup matches will be played at three venues in St Kitts – Warner Park, Conaree Cricket Centre, and St Paul’s Sports Complex from March 4-25. Start time for the 50-over matches is 10:00am local time. 

Meanwhile, the T20 Blaze will feature five full days of entertainment for fans from March 17-25 at Warner Park. There will be three matches per day – starting at 10:00am, 2:30pm and 7:00pm (under lights). 

Barbados are defending champions in both the CG United Super50 Cup and the T20 Blaze. 

West Indies Women’s and Barbados captain Hayley Matthews will miss the CG United Women’s Super50 Cup and the T20 Blaze, as she has been granted a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to participate in the Women’s Premiere League in India.