Ollie Robinson has been told to work harder on his fitness after a back spasm forced him out of the England attack on the first day of the fifth Ashes Test.
Robinson’s skills with ball in hand are not in question and he confirmed his ability to compete with the best in the world by dismissing Australian pair David Warner and Steve Smith for ducks in a high-class opening spell in Hobart.
That took his series tally to 11 wickets at an average of 23.45, making him England’s most impactful bowler on his first Ashes tour, but there are clear concerns within the camp about his physical conditioning.
The 28-year-old has shown a tendency to dip in pace during games, sat out the fourth Test with a sore shoulder and suffered pain in his back after just eight overs here in Hobart.
That left England with just three specialist bowlers for the remainder of the day, a body blow given Ben Stokes was already unable to chip in because of a side strain.
Australia cashed in against a threadbare attack, bouncing back from 12 for three as Travis Head’s attacking century carried them to 241 for six by the time rain brought an early end.
Bowling coach Jon Lewis spoke for the camp at the end of the day and came prepared with a message for Robinson.
“He’s going to have to learn to look after himself probably better than he does at the moment,” he said.
“It’s definitely something to work on and it’s something he needs to improve. He’s got a record of playing a lot of games in county cricket but international cricket is a higher intensity and you play all year round.
“He’s got to get used to understanding what it takes to be a full-time year-round international cricketer.
“That’s something he’s definitely looking at and we’re working on it with him. It’s something he will need if he’s going to perform consistently over a long period of time at this level, he’ll need to be a fitter bowler. That’s 100 per cent.
“We’ve had those conversations with him and been pretty frank with him and now it’s up to him to go and do the work.”
Robinson was sent back out to field in the hope that his problems ease overnight. Had he remained off the field, he would not have been allowed to bowl right away, but there were times when he moved gingerly around the outfield that patience appeared to wearing thin among his team-mates.
“Obviously it has a big impact on the rest of the day when you lose one of the seamers. He was bowling fantastically well,” said Lewis.
“He gets a lot of bounce and that has caused Australia trouble. But back spasms can come and go, we hope we will be able to go again and we can get him out there.
“He tried to stay out on the field so he’s available to bowl when he comes good.”