England announce 14-player squad for first two Tests against South Africa, Ollie Robinson returns
The first Test between the two teams will be played on August 17 at Lord's.
Updated - Aug 2, 2022 8:16 pm
Ollie Robinson has been called up by England for the forthcoming home Test series against South Africa. Robinson, a right-arm seamer who last played a Test match in January this year against Australia, was able to make the roster of 14 for the first two games of the three-match series despite battling a variety of illnesses that forced him out of action for nearly two months.
He will be in a position to add to his nine Test caps so far after overcoming back troubles, Covid-19, and tooth concerns. Despite stellar overall stats of 39 dismissals at an average of 21.28, 28-year-old Robinson has had a rocky start to his Test cricket career. His Lord’s debut at the beginning of last summer was tarnished by the discovery of historically inflammatory tweets, but he overcame this to become England’s prominent bowler of 2021 and secure a berth among Wisden’s five cricketers of the year.
Although he received public criticism for his fitness during England’s 0-4 Ashes loss, criticism increased when he was unable to participate in England’s March tour of the Caribbean. He started the summer of 2022 hoping to put that issue behind him, but by the middle of May, back spasms and other aches and pains had limited him to just four first-class outings.
Robinson was back on track, though, as seen by his 4/44 and 5/66 figures in his comeback County Championship game for Sussex against Nottinghamshire the other week, getting through 36.1 overs. By playing for the England Lions in the four-day game against South Africa at Canterbury, which starts on August 9, he will continue to demonstrate his readiness for the field.
On Monday, the selection committee made final adjustments to the team in presence of head coach Brendon McCullum, who was in New Zealand. By the beginning of next week, he should be back in England. Notably, Robinson was expected to be part of the Lions squad, which is expected to be named on Friday. However, they chose Robinson for the main group since Surrey’s fast bowler Jamie Overton was injured.
Sam Billings makes way for Ben Foakes
Overton had made his first appearance in the final Test against New Zealand at Headingley. Robinson had been scheduled to play for Manchester Originals in The Hundred, which gets underway on Wednesday, August 3, but chose to stay at Sussex and participate in their Royal London Cup games in its place.
Matthew Potts of Durham, who benefited from Robinson’s absence, has kept his spot in the squad, having 18 dismissals in his four Test matches this summer. Since Ben Foakes has recovered from his case of Covid-19, which forced him to be removed during the Headingley Test, wicketkeeper-batter Sam Billings hasn’t been picked.
England squad for first two Tests v South Africa: Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wk), Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root.