Friday, 22 January 2016

The Sam Robson Interview

Sam Robson is one of the nicest blokes in cricket. With an English mother and an Aussie father, he was wanted by both countries a few years back before choosing his mother's side. One of the heaviest run scorers in recent years in the domestic game in recent years, here Sam waxes lyrical about Tim Murtagh's musical tastes, the poshness of Nick Gubbins and the golfing ability of Olly Rayner. Having opened the batting with three of the outstanding openers in Test cricket over the last few years in Andrew Strauss, Chris Rogers and Alastair Cook, Sam gives us the lowdown on their approach to opening the batting in this intriguing interview. We caught up with him recently whilst in Australia and here's what he had to say...

Robbo tonning up for England
TMS: As a man who has scored a hundred for England, was wanted by England and Australia to play Test cricket and one of the heaviest run scorers in county cricket in recent years, it must be a huge privilege to be interviewed by the Middle Stump?

SR: Yes it sure is Middle Stump! 

TMS: You’re out in Australia at present? Playing cricket or having some time off?

SR: A bit of both really. The past couple years have been really full on with busy summers and also Lions tours first to Australia and Sri Lanka in 2013-14 and then to South Africa last winter so at the end of last summer I took the opportunity to have a couple months recharging the batteries and having a break. Over the last month or so, I've trained here in Sydney and played for Eastern Suburbs in the Sydney grade competition. 

TMS: Let’s talk about opening and you have opened the batting with some excellent players – Andrew Strauss, Chris Rogers, Alastair Cook. Do they prepare differently?

SR: I suppose all players have different attributes and go about things slightly differently, both on and off the field. What stuck out most about Andrew Strauss was his professionalism, preparation and approach to matches even when he was England captain and at the top of his game. You got the feeling that he was preparing for county games just as he would for big Test matches and that impressed me. Chris wasn't particularly regimented in his practice but he was always focused and super determined to do well out in the middle day in, day out. 

Rogers...booming drives

TMS: How are they different as batsmen?

SR: Chris was and still is a really strong front foot driver, especially through the off-side and that always stuck out to me batting at the other end as I would watch him peel off these booming square drives time after time. Strauss and Cook probably are more cautious against the fuller ball, but are magnificent players against the shorter ball with their pulling and cutting. At the end of the day, everyone plays differently but the best know their games and stick to them consistently and that's why I think they are often the best players, especially when it comes to opening.

TMS: All are left handed…does that help a right hander?

SR: I think it can help a bit but I don't think it's necessary. I opened a lot with Chris for a few years in a row and you do get used to that partnership.

TMS: Who have you learnt the most from?

SR: I've been helped by a lot of team mates and coaches, especially at Middlesex where everyone has been great. Obviously the guys mentioned above were great but along with that, Mark O'Neill has probably been my main batting coach. I've known him since I was a teenager and he then went to Middlesex as batting coach for a few years as well. Mark Ramprakash and Graham Thorpe were great with the Lions along with Ian Bell who helped me a lot during my time last year with the Test team.  

TMS: Who is the quickest that you have faced?

SR: It's always a tough question. Steven Finn in spicy green nets isn't real nice. Nor is Mark Ramprakash in practice when he's fired up!

TMS: Let’s talk Middlesex – tightest team mate?

SR: Probably Steven Finn and Tim Murtagh - Finny's my age and we have played a fair bit together and Murts I've known since I was 17 and is a close mate.

Finn...The Watford Wad

TMS: Worst dancer?

SR: Elaine Benes (Huh? Seinfeld? - Ed)

TMS: Worst dressed?

SR: Harry Podmore 

TMS: Worst/best drinker?  Who falls over after half a shandy?

SR: John Simpson often looks to be in strife early in the sitting but he hangs in there until the death to be fair. 
The best drinker I've seen would definitely be a bloke called Daniel Rootes who's played a lot of league cricket around Worcester and Essex. Very thirsty man. 

TMS: Worst driver on away games?

SR: Olly Rayner - he always hits his 4-iron

TMS: Who has the worst music in their car on an away game?

SR: Tim Murtagh - lots of strange music from the late 80s and early 90s

TMS: How posh is Nick Gubbins?

SR: He's definitely posher than Harry Podmore 

TMS: What is it like going to work at Lord’s every day?

SR: Unbelievable - best ground in the world

Lord' in the world according to Sam

TMS: How good are the lunches?

SR: Outstanding - especially after wins!

TMS: Where else is good on the circuit?

SR: Trent Bridge next best I'd say.   

TMS: What was the reason behind Middlesex having such a good year last year?

SR: We bowled teams out a lot all year and kept playing good cricket right until the end of the season. In past years we probably have fallen away a bit at the back end.

TMS: What is the most amusing story you have heard in the game?

SR: Jacob Taucher, a well known Sussex League seamer, had a stint playing for Ashdown Forest last year. He was in Stockholm, Sweden at a party on a Friday during the summer. Caught up in the festivities, he decided to cancel his Friday night flight and re-booked for the Saturday morning. After arriving at Gatwick around midday on Saturday, he jumped in a cab and arrived at the ground 5 mins after play had started. He made up for it though, taking 8-30 and scoring 90 not out. A good weekend!  

TMS: So how did a lad from Sydney end up living in North London?

SR: I played with Tim Murtagh in Sydney and he tried to get me involved at Middlesex when I was looking for a chance. It couldn't have worked out any better. 

TMS: You’ve been here a while now too?

SR: Yep - I love London and turning up to play cricket at Lord's each week.

TMS: What was it like making your Test debut at Lord’s?

SR: Amazing - I had a lot of family and friends there which was great. Walking through the Long Room out to bat really was something else. Hopefully I can experience it again.

TMS: At Headingley you were stuck on 98 over tea. Were you more nervous there or doing our live show Pushing the Boundaries in front of a hundred drunken lads at Southgate Adelaide CC?

SR: Probably more nervous at Headingley but only just.

John Simpson and Sam with Dan of The Middle Stump after a 'nervous' night in Southgate

TMS: What can you do to get your England place back?

SR: Score runs and make big scores in a winning Middlesex team.

TMS: Favourite ground to play on?

SR: Lords followed by Trent Bridge 

TMS: Being a blonde lad, what were you taught about the dangers of being exposed to the sun as a cricketer when you were younger?

SR: We were taught a lot - it's crucial to whack on the sunscreen before playing out in the sun.

TMS: What do you think of the work that Melanoma UK do educating people about this?

SR: Great work and may it continue 

TMS: What does 2016 hold for you Sam?

SR: Hopefully some runs and some wins for Middlesex - maybe even a championship.

Sam, you've been a top guy and thanks for your time. I am sure your chance will come again and this time I hope you show the world what a fine batsman you are.

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