England’s Ollie Robinson, who on Friday notched up his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests, revealed that the mid-pitch duels between himself and KL Rahul was nothing but ‘friendly banter’. Robinson lauded Rahul’s patience and revealed that he was trying to get the batsman out of his bubble.
Ahead of the first Test, the Kohli vs Anderson face-off was being built up as the biggest sub-plot, but while that bout turned to be one-sided, a battle that actually delivered unexpectedly was Ollie Robinson vs KL Rahul. Playing his first Test since coming back from suspension, Robinson got the Dukes ball dancing around, and engaged in an intriguing battle with the Indian opener.
On Day 2 Robinson exchanged a few ‘friendly words’ with Rahul, while on Day 3 he took the battle to the next level, brushing shoulders with the Karnataka batsman while getting back to his mark. Eventually it was Rahul that won the battle, with Robinson failing to dismiss the Indian, but the first three days set up an incredible sub-plot for the rest of the series.
Reflecting on his tussle with Rahul, Robinson revealed that it was all ‘friendly banter’, and insisted that he just wanted to show the visitors that he was the real deal.
"It was friendly banter. I was trying to get them out of their bubble and play a few shots. They were batting well. But they were pretty defensive and I wanted KL Rahul to play some shots. It was all good fun out there,” Robinson said on Friday.
"But it was important for me to show everyone that I am the real deal on the field and try to get the scrutiny off me. It was a proud moment for myself and my family; a moment I'll cherish for a long time."
Two months ago, however, the prospect of Robinson playing again for England - let alone in the India series - looked highly unlikely. The 27-year-old was indefinitely suspended from international cricket after racist and sexist historical tweets posted by him emerged, and a big punishment, it seemed, was on the cards. After an independent investigation, Robinson was cleared to play before the India series, but the right-armer revealed that, at one point, he did fear that his career was over.
"I definitely had doubts over my career. There was a time I was speaking with my lawyers and we were looking at the fact I could be banned for a couple of years. That would have taken me up to the age of 30 and someone else could have come in and taken my spot. So yes I had doubts over my career. I thought I might never play for England again.
"It was tough. Probably the toughest few weeks I've had in cricket to be honest, or in my life, actually. It affected not only myself but my family. But luckily it all came good today,” Robinson said, following claiming his maiden five-wicket haul.
Robinson started his career off with Yorkshire, but was sacked just years into his professional career for disciplinary reasons. He then moved to Sussex, and it was there where the 27-year-old got his career back on track and made a name for himself. Robinson admitted that he was a ‘naive’ youngster who made a lot of mistakes, but asserted that he has now learned from all those mistakes and grown as a person.
"I was a young, naive guy. I made a lot of mistakes. Not just those tweets. I had negative press when I got sacked from Yorkshire as well.
"But I've learned a lot. I have grown as a person in that time. I've tried to develop myself as a person in the last ten years. I am father now, as well, and I have just tried to make myself the best person I can be. I hope people will be able to see that."