Former England Test captain Nasser Hussain has earmarked paceman Ollie Robinson as the hosts’ secret weapon against Australia in the upcoming Ashes series.
Though Hussain never led England to an Ashes series victory across his stint between 1999 and 2003, he was known as a captain with ideas and gumption – something many see in current skipper Ben Stokes.
And while most will be looking towards veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad to let rip with the ball, Hussain reckons Robinson could be England’s power player.
“I’d watch for Ollie Robinson,” the 96-Test former player told City A.M. “I think it is only because we have had Anderson and Broad, two of our greatest ever fast bowlers playing in the same era, that sometimes other bowlers go under the radar.
“Robinson gets his wickets at 21 [runs] apiece, and his first class wickets are 20 apiece. This season he has been phenomenal and he has also been getting good players out.
“So if it wasn’t for Anderson and Broad, we would be singing from the rooftops here at Sky Sports about this lad.
“He is a phenomenal bowler, he really is. Watch out for Robinson if conditions dictate and he stays fit.
“I think he will have a big role to play in the Ashes. He’s hugely skillful — the same thing was said about Jimmy [Anderson] all those years ago.
“He’s not the quickest — he’s worked on his fitness and his speeds and keeping his speeds throughout the day. His skill is immense.”
Robinson will be key to any England bowling attack throughout the five Ashes Tests this summer, but the Australians will be bringing their own arsenal too.
The Aussies showed signs of dominance against India in their World Test Championship win at the weekend and they may fancy their chances against England’s freewheeling Bazball style.
“[Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s run rate] is the highest ever in Test match cricket,” Hussain adds.
“But for me, if Australia get a par score in England with their batting lineup, I think they will be in the Test series very much so because of the bowling they’ve got.
“I think Australia’s batting hasn’t quite clicked in English conditions. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne have been phenomenal, they’ve averaged 50 in England, but [David] Warner has struggled, [Usman] Khawaja has struggled, Travis Head has [generally] struggled.
“If I was in the Australian camp and an Australia coach, I would say: ‘Lads, if you get the runs and a par score with [Mitchell] Starc, [Josh] Hazlewood, [Scott] Boland and [Nathan] Lyon, we’re right in this Ashes’.”
It is always a “mark your diary” moment when the Ashes fixtures are released and the opening day, this Friday at Edgbaston, has flown around. So hop onto the bandwagon and enjoy the ride, it’s set to be a thriller.
Every match of the men’s and women’s Ashes will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports and NOW from 16th June.