England seamer Ollie Robinson admits it was a ‘huge honour’ to be part of emotional day at the Oval after paying his respects to the Queen and then collecting with first Test five-for against South Africa
- Ollie Robinson bowled Dean Elgar with his third delivery on the third day
- England seamer finished with 5-49 as South Africa were bowled out for 118
- England reached 154-7, a lead of 36, when bad light stopped play an hour early
Ollie Robinson admitted that it was an honour to play an integral part on an extraordinary day for English cricket at the Kia Oval, as his five-wicket haul put England in the driving seat against South Africa, after a day that began with cricket paying its respects to the Queen.
‘It felt special. It felt like a really special morning to be a part of. To show our respects in the way we did was a huge honour for us and the silence we experienced walking down those steps was something none of us have ever experienced,’ said Robinson.
The ground was full, though silent as the players and officials entered the field through a military guard of honour before a minute’s silence was held for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. That was followed by the singing of the national anthems and a spine-tingling rendition of God Save The King from a crowd of just under 25,000 had barely ended when Robinson bowled Dean Elgar, the South African captain, on his way to career-best figures of five for 49.
England’s Ollie Robinson takes the applause from The Oval crowd after taking his fifth wicket
Robinson took the last England Test wicket under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the first under King Charles II and the 28-year-old admitted that things felt a little different before play as a national sporting team sang the new anthem for the first time since 1952.
‘Yeah, it did (feel like a historic moment). We had to remind ourselves what we were going to sing. There were a few nervy characters walking down those steps but it was really special to be able to sing that. It was an honour to be a part of it,’ added Robinson.
With the first day washed out and the second day cancelled following the Queen’s death, this was in effect a three-day Test match to decide the series and it was a day that accelerated rapidly as wickets tumbled regularly in South London. In the 70 overs possible before bad light stopped play an hour early, 17 wickets fell – the joint-most in a single day of a Test at The Oval since 1933.
Robinson celebrates with captain Ben Stokes after taking the wicket of Dean Elgar early on
Robinson insisted that it was all in line with England’s ultra-attacking approach this summer to ensure a result, as they raced to a lead of 36 with three wickets remaining after bowling the tourists out for 118.
‘The message was pretty clear from Ben (Stokes). To go out there and be positive and try and force a result really. We play brave cricket and we did that today,’ said Robinson.
Asked if England had missed an opportunity with the bat, with still plenty of time left in the game after bowling South Africa cheaply, Robinson didn’t agree.
It was the perfect start for England as Elgar was dismissed by Robinson in just the second over
‘No I don’t think so. You saw from when South Africa batted that if you let bowlers just bowl six or 12 balls at you, you’re going to get out here. The type of cricket we want to play is brave cricket and be positive. We want to force a result in this game and that’s what we’re trying to do,’
For Robinson, his five-for was his third in just his 11th Test match and the seamer now has 49 wickets since making his debut last summer at a remarkable average of 19.79 and a strike rate of 43.8. Only Jimmy Anderson has more (51) for England, though he has played four more Tests in that period.
It was shortly after England levelled the series in Manchester when Robinson revealed that he had ‘become a bit of a gym freak’. He admitted that working on his fitness, after he infamously pulled up after only eight overs in Hobart in January and went to the Caribbean without bowling a ball, has benefitted him immensely on his impressive return to Test cricket after a seven-month absence.
‘The things we’ve noticed a little bit more is that later on in the day, the pace has stayed more level compared to what it was maybe 12 months ago, which is something I’ve worked on in the last three or four months. I think those second, third and fourth spells – there’s a little more intensity to them than maybe there was before.’
As a graphic from CricViz showed, Robinson’s average speed across the past two Tests of around 83mph is higher than at any other point in his Test career. For England, these are all encouraging signs, given that Robinson looks like the likely leader of a new era of English pace bowlers once the reign of Anderson and Stuart Broad comes to an end.