Ollie Robinson thought he would not be able to play cricket again after he struggled with injury and fitness problems earlier this year.
The seamer has been a key part of England’s tour in Pakistan, taking eight wickets in the first two Tests, including the 10th wicket in Multan, to help the visitors secure a series victory with one Test to play.
But at the start of the year, it seemed unlikely Robinson would feature for England after he pulled up with an injury in January’s fifth Ashes Test in Hobart and was criticised by former bowling coach Jon Lewis for poor fitness and lack of professionalism.
The 29-year-old returned to the side for the South Africa series in August and said the public criticism he faced helped him.
Speaking to Nasser Hussain ahead of the third Test in Karachi, he said: “I don’t think I’ve ever needed a kick up the backside, I’ve known what I have needed to do. County cricket is very different to international cricket.
“It took me maybe took long to get myself where I needed to be for international cricket and the other side of that, me and Jon Lewis had a very honest relationship.
“I knew what he said was true before he came out in public and said it. It felt harsh at the time, but in reality it helped get me in the place that I am in now.”
The start of 2022 was riddled with injury troubles for Robinson but he believes he is know thriving in the current England set up.
“It was tough, there were days when I would think I wasn’t going to play cricket any more. I would get back to full fitness and play one game and my back would spasm again,” he said.
“I trained really hard in that period and was just unfortunate I couldn’t get back on the park. It took a lot of scans and a few injections to get myself back into the right place.
“With the help of the England medical staff, Jimmy (James Anderson), Stokesy (Ben Stokes), Baz (Brendon McCullum), I have got myself into a really good place and now thriving in this environment.”
Anderson is ‘genius’ | Stokes support has been ‘great’
Robinson has taken on more responsibility for England in Pakistan and said it has been “nice” to take on a more senior role in the bowling unit.
“Me and Jimmy haven’t opened the bowling much, but to have him at the other end is a great confidence booster for me. It’s been nice to have the responsibility and stand up to it as well,” he said.
“The bloke is a genius, there aren’t many words that can describe how good he is. I am just fortunate enough to play with him and learn from him.
“He is someone who has been doing it for 20 years, and I have looked up to him since I have been in this environment. He has really helped me over the last 12 months to get myself into this place.”
Before returning to the Test side, Robinson said he spoke to Stokes regularly about his role in the team.
“Before the New Zealand squad got announced, we had an honest conversation. I knew in my head I wasn’t ready. Stokesy told me what I needed to do,” he added.
“It’s just a matter of playing a couple of games of cricket and showing that I could play Test cricket again. We spoke every few weeks and the confidence he gave me is great. To have his backing is more than I can ask for.”
Pakistan series has been an ‘eye-opener’
While England’s fast bowlers have been effective in the series, they have had to toil on flat pitches throughout, and Robinson believes the experience will help him improve.
Normally so dangerous due to his height and bounce, Robinson has had to adapt his game to take wickets in Pakistan.
He said: “It’s been an eye-opener. I have had to bowl harder than I have ever had to before to get anything out of these wickets.
“It’s been taxing on the body and on the mind as well. Me and Jimmy spoke before the series and said that if we can get any lateral movement with the ball we know we are in the game. We are so accurate, so any mistake with the batter, and we can get a wicket.
“I have had to adapt my game, use the crease more and study footage of batters and set slightly different fields than in England. It’s been a great learner for me and I feel it’s going to help me in my career.”
Watch the final Test from Karachi live on Sky Sports Main Event and Cricket from 4.30am on December 17.
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