April 23, 2024

Durham wicket-keeper Ollie Robinson looks to take England's place

Durham goalkeeper Ollie Robinson is ready to take his chance in a potential 'penalty shootout' for England's gloves this summer.

With Ben Foakes yet to match the inevitable gloves with consistent runs and Jonny Bairstow potentially at a career crossroads after a poor tour of India, there are a number of contenders keen to be pushed to the front of the queue.

Foakes' Surrey team-mate Jimmy Smith is not short of admirers, Somerset's James Rew has enjoyed an impressive season in 2023, and regular white-ball player Phil Salt is keen to move across the formats.

Ollie Robinson completes a surprise win against Sussex last season.

Ollie Robinson completes a surprise win against Sussex last season (Will Matthews/PA)

But there is also a compelling candidate in Chester-le-Street. Robinson was impressive as Durham stormed to the Division Two title last season, scoring three centuries and 931 runs at a strike rate of 88.66 to distinguish himself as a natural 'baseball' player. In the field he contributed with 37 catches and 10 stumpings.

That has earned him a place in the England Lions' winter series against India A and the 25-year-old is not shy about the potential for rapid promotion ahead of Durham's return in the Premier League against Hampshire on Friday.

He told the PA news agency: “You see articles all the time, people putting things online and the media seem to think there will be changes in England.”

“Whether it's me or someone else, who knows, but it's an exciting place to be at the beginning of the season. It's kind of a shot in the arm in a way.

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“Things like being called up to the Lions show you're not too far away. It might just be a case of who starts the best. That's not to say I'm putting pressure on myself, but it's an exciting opportunity to put your name in the hat if something happens and changes are made.”

“Coaches talk about having healthy competition all the time, and that's what drives people forward, when you know someone is after you. I'm used to that, before I was here I was at Kent and I had Jordan Cox and Sam Billings around me, so I always had that feeling of trying Force my way through.

Robinson is also pleased that he comes at a time when England's attacking philosophy, under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, is matching his own instincts.

“This is the way I always play, I like to score goals and hit boundaries,” he said.

“I remember opening the batting for Kent against Northamptonshire once and getting 100 off 100 balls. Everyone was asking: 'Are you in a hurry to get somewhere?'

“It's a breath of fresh air for me that it has become a habit to approach things this way. I score quickly and hit the ball in areas that some players don't. Batsmen are there to score runs, it doesn't matter how many runs you face.