Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sam Robson inks himself into England's test team

It seems that there has never been so many spots up for grabs in the England test side. At the start of the county season, it seemed that only five players were really guaranteed to play in the 1st Test against Sri Lanka on the 12th June. Alistair Cook was always going to be included after the ECB confirmed he would remain England's test captain, while Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Ben Stokes all seemed inked in for the visit of Sri Lanka.

Finally, after two rounds of County Championship fixtures, another name can be added to that list, Middlesex's Sam Robson. The 24 year old has been close to a call-up to England's test team for awhile now following an excellent 2013 campaign with Middlesex. He also had a strong winter with England's performance squad in Australia and during the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka.

Many pundits had put their weight behind Robson before the county season began following a run heavy winter but he still needed a good start with Middlesex if he was going to be walking out with Alistair Cook at Lords in mid-June. He might have got a bit jittery after a poor showing against Sussex in Middlesex's first county match of the season, scoring only 11 and 1. However, his performance in Middlesex's very next game against Nottinghamshire shows just what a good player the 24 year old is and how he is almost certainly set to play at Lord's.

Robson's 163 in Middlesex's first innings, followed by 44 not out in their second, showed the 24 year olds calmness and his ability to build a big, match-winning innings. England have been missing someone who can build innings at the top of the order alongside Alistair Cook ever since Andrew Strauss retired. Nick Compton seemed to bat himself out of the England side with increasingly negative performances while Joe Root and Michael Carberry had a problem against quality new ball bowling. Robson however, seems to have a good enough technique to take on the new ball while his calmness shows he should be able to handle the rigours of test cricket.

It may also be that Robson doesn't have a lot of competition for the openers spot in the England side. Joe Root appears to be his main rival but many suspect he would be better off in the middle order, batting when the ball is older and the spinners are on.

Robson has done exactly what he needed to in order to get into the England side, score a big match winning hundred. One spot has almost certainly been ticked off in England's new look test team however, there are still several spots left vacant, waiting to be filled before June 12th.