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Rising star Ollie Robinson impresses with four-wicket haul for Sussex against Glamorgan

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Rising star Ollie Robinson impresses with four-wicket haul for Sussex against Glamorgan – Getty Images

Ollie Robinson, the Sussex pace bowler aspiring to make his England Test debut this summer, took a wicket in his first over of the second round of championship matches and, though he could not quite finish off Glamorgan on his own, took a satisfactory haul of four wickets for 50 runs.

Robinson operated at a similar pace to James Anderson, in the early 80s mph, but more closely resembled Stuart Broad when pitching a full length. He swung the new ball away or seamed it back into the right-hander, almost alternately at the start, and he hit the deck hard, bowling ‘a heavy ball’ and a loud one too as it hit the gloves of Sussex’s wicketkeeper Ben Brown with a thwack.

Not that Robinson offered many balls which the batsman could leave. Quite the opposite: he bowled a full length and straight, so that whenever a Glamorgan player missed, he hit their pads. Three of his four wickets were LBW, and all four of his victims were in Glamorgan’s top six. Robinson might have had more if 20-year-old off-spinner Jack Carson had not snuffed out the home tail just before the second new ball.

For all the sunshine – and a sprinkler was busy in the nets, so dry has the last fortnight been – the wind was biting, and twice – at the start of his third and fourth spells – Robinson had that horrible tingling in the bowling hand that can accompany early season. If his line was not everything it could have been, he did well to be driven towards mid-on, not through the covers.

When the slip of a lad who took the new ball with Robinson, 19-year-old Harry Crocombe, nipped in with an early wicket, Glamorgan were wobbling at 23 for three – Robinson taking two wickets in his opening spell of seven overs. In their first game however Glamorgan got on top of Yorkshire before snow forced a draw, and on this occasion again they were of sterner stuff than in the recent past; better still it was two Welsh batsmen who sparked their recovery, suggesting their side may yet have a local core again, not one made in the southern hemisphere.

David Lloyd was more controlled in defence, playing Robinson’s outswinger back towards mid-on, but so inaccurate was Sussex’s change bowling – until Carson – that Lloyd scored his 84 off only 99 balls. Kiran Carlson, only 22, scored his fifth first-class century, an unbeaten 127 off 182 balls with more adventurous strokeplay. Lloyd comes from north Wales, like the prime minister of similar names, Carlson from Cardiff, born in the city and educated at the university.

Off-spinner Jack Carson also bowled well for Sussex – GETTY IMAGES

Overall it has been a gallant attempt by county cricketers to brave the elements in the absence of spectators. The second week of April is too early to start a cricket season in normal times, but these times have never been so abnormal, and this new season has been providing both entertainment and solace.

The sun shone all day on Sophia Gardens, but the wind was almost as icy as it was at Old Trafford where snow fell on Sussex’s first match. The ground and surrounding parkland beside the Taff sparkled radiantly in the sunlight as a metaphor for these times: fine if you are in the sun and sheltered, but an ill wind for those who are not.

When county cricket resumed after the two world wars, it was dominated by old players, for the simple reason that younger ones had never played cricket. This year the counties are packed with youngsters – older ones let go through economies, a few stars away at the IPL – to the extent that Sussex fielded seven under the age of 23, while Robinson – not a senior – is their red-ball vice-captain.

Sussex’s youthful opening pair made a good fist of replying to Glamorgan’s 285 with 99 without loss by the close, but no less impressive was their off-spinner Carson. Originally from Northern Ireland, then awarded a cricket scholarship at Hurstpierpoint, Carson put plenty of body into his action and looped the ball sufficiently for it to go up before dropping nicely. April is the cruellest month for spinners, unless they are special.