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Opposing Ashes stars shaped Sam Robson's early days at Lord's

Middlesex batting star says both Andrew Strauss and Aussie opener Chris Rogers were major on-field influences

Sam Robson is well accustomed to straddling the Ashes divide – and it was two opposing stars of the old enemies who helped shape his formative years, writes Paddy von Behr.

The 24-year-old grew up playing cricket in New South Wales but after leaving school opportunities dried up and he headed to English shores.

Since then the opening batsman has become one of the most prolific run-scorers in County Championship cricket, notably leading Middlesex to promotion in 2011 with an average north of 50.

Robson replicated that form this summer and it earned him a call-up to England’s Performance Programme Squad to tour the land where he spent his childhood.

With his allegiances apparently settled, the former Marcellin College Randwick pupil is now under the tutelage of Mark Ramprakash and Graham Thorpe.

However, his early days at Lord’s were shaped largely by two on-field influences – former England captain Andrew Strauss and Australian opener Chris Rogers.

“I have been very lucky at Middlesex,” he said. “Opening the batting with Andrew Strauss a couple of seasons ago was really beneficial, just to see how he goes about his business.

“Then of course Chris Rogers, who has been really consistent and just churned out runs the last few years for us. Being at the other end as an opener and seeing how he operates has been really helpful.

“There is no doubt about it, I have been very lucky to be around some top players.

“He (Strauss) was quite a relaxed character but very switched on when it was time to get out there in the middle.

“He wasn’t too intense or too over-the-top and I suppose probably the biggest thing that stuck out for me was how diligent he was with his preparation.

“He was the first in the nets on the morning of a game and he was the last to leave – and it was the same at training.

“You could see that his preparation was top-class. He approached games for Middlesex as though they were test matches for England and that was really impressive.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener I suppose for a young player like myself.”

Robson’s appearance on this winter’s programme is his first involvement with the England setup and it got off to a prosperous start.

Last month’s tour match saw the 24-year-old hit 102 and 41 against a Queensland second XI – his familiarity with the conditions no doubt playing a role.

However, despite England’s early batting woes down under, Robson insists he is not entertaining the idea of a premature call-up to the Test side.

“The top level is completely different to anything below, from what I imagine, so we’ll just play it all by ear and see where it takes us,” he added.

“We have seen a lot of guys in county cricket in the last few years get their way in just through weight of runs – guys like Nick Compton, who has just scored mountains of runs year in, year out.

“If you’re a batsman, in particular a top-order batsman, that’s the only way you can get your name in there, I suppose.

“If you have a good season, you’ve got to show that you can do it the next year and if things don’t necessarily go well the next year you’ve just got to keep doing it.

“I suppose that’s the challenge of cricket and the big challenge of batting – sometimes when you’re in form things go your way but inevitably there are always going to be peaks and troughs.

“You have just got to try and put it together over a long period of time.”

Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at  www.ecb.co.uk/epp

 

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