England v India – Ollie Robinson renews home comforts with Headingley to help square Test series
Ollie Robinson, who started his professional career at Yorkshire, but was sacked by the club in 2014 for what it described as “a number of unprofessional actions”, completed his personal redemption story with a man-of-the-match performance in the Headingley Test.
The pace bowler, now of Sussex, took 5-65 in the second innings – to follow figures of 2-16 in the first innings – as England won by an innings and 76 runs with just over five sessions left.
In a summer in which historic indiscretions on social media also surfaced, resulting in Robinson’s brief suspension by England, the 27-year-old has matured on-and-off the field to become an impressive figure in more ways than one.
“To get a five-for at Headingley, where I started my professional career, is very special,” said Robinson, who now has 23 wickets in his four Test appearances.
“I enjoy bowling here, and I was excited about using the conditions and facilities.
“This is very special (to be part of my first win as a Test player), and it’s something that I dreamt about as a kid.
“To bowl with Jimmy (Anderson) is also an absolute honour, and to learn from him every day since I’ve been in the England team has improved my game no end.”
Although this match was not exactly in the balance going into Saturday’s fourth day, with India 215-2 in their second innings, still 139 short of making England bat again, nor was it quite time to light the cigars.
With Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara still in situ, having added 99 on the third evening with menacing resilience, there was still plenty of work for England to do on a seemingly perfect morning for batting too, with the sun looking down from a flawless blue sky.
Robinson, who revealed afterwards that he had only just learnt how to bowl wobble seam deliveries from Anderson, made the second new ball talk along with his mentor.
England, who took that new ball straight away, began the day with three straight maidens before Robinson struck in the fourth over, Pujara trapped lef before while offering no shot. Although umpire Richard Kettleborough rejected the appeal, England reviewed and Hawkeye showed the necessary three reds, Pujara out for 91 after misjudging a delivery that moved back in.
Then it was India’s turn to benefit from DRS. Anderson had a caught behind appeal off Kohli upheld by Alex Wharf, only for Kohli to review having initially made to walk off the fieild and Ultra Edge to show that he had actually clipped his pad with his bat and missed the ball completely.
The reprieve was short-lived.
After reaching his half-century, having started the day on 45, Kohli had advanced to 55 when Robinson had him edging to Joe Root at first slip from the final ball of the day’s 10th over.
It was a big moment, with India still 117 adrift, and their cause became hopeless when Anderson had Ajinkya Rahane caught behind – his 400th Test wicket in England – before Robinson removed Rishabh Pant with the aid of a catch at third slip by Craig Overton, the tourists losing 3-2 in 12 deliveries.
Robinson thought that he had his fifth wicket when Mohammed Shami was adjudged lbw only for another decision to be overturned.
But after Moeen Ali spun a beauty back through the gate of the same player, Robinson got his name on the honours board when Ishant Sharma pushed at a ball and was caught behind.
India were now 254-7 and hurtling towards defeat before lunch, collapsing in a not dissimilar fashion to how they had on the first day, when the match was effectively lost from their perspective after being routed for 78.
Although Kohli later insisted that he had no regrets about his decision to bat first, the old adage that you should do what the opposition would least like you to do is an old adage for a reason, and surely there was merit – no matter the fact that Yorkshire groundsman Andy Fogarty and his team produced another fine pitch – in subjecting a hitherto fragile England top-order to immediate scrutiny.
Instead, after England followed up with 432 to claim a colossal advantage of 354, the die was cast and the hosts indeed went on to clinch victory just before lunch.
After a little defiant strokeplay from Ravindra Jadeja, who smote 30 from 25 balls with five fours and a straight six off Moeen, Overton had him edging behind to Jos Buttler and then wrapped up proceedings by having Mohammed Siraj caught at second slip by Jonny Bairstow.
Cue plenty of celebrations in a West Stand awash with the usual fancy dress.
After the disappointment of losing the second Test at Lord’s, and going 1-0 down in the series, with all manner of questions circulating around their tactics and batting techniques, England had summoned a bit of the old Headingley magic to bounce back superbly to leave the five-Test rubber intriguingly poised.
As attention now turns to the Oval on Thursday, there is perhaps a feeling that the momentum has shifted, but only a fool would predict what happens next.