Ollie Robinson suffers further fitness setback after testing positive for Covid

Ollie Robinson‘s cascade of injury and misfortune has been compounded by the news that he tested positive for Covid-19 last week, on the day he was due to turn out for a County Select XI to prove his fitness against New Zealand at Chelmsford.

Robinson was ruled out of the tour match after reporting stiffness in his back during the warm-ups on Thursday. “Ollie felt a bit of stiffness in his back while he was warming up this morning before the game,” Richard Dawson, the ECB’s elite performance pathway coach, had said. “We had a chat and felt as a precaution that it was sensible for him to sit out this match. We’ll assess him and move forward from there.”

The ECB announced on Monday that he had then tested positive for Covid-19 later in the day. While there is no longer a government-mandated isolation period in the UK, the ECB has told players that they must withdraw from games if they test positive and Robinson has been isolating.

“With respect to the lower back symptoms which prevented him playing in the four-day tour match for the FCC Select XI against the New Zealand tourists at Chelmsford last week, he will be assessed after his isolation period later this week,” an ECB statement said. “Further information will be confirmed in due course.”

Robinson, 28, has taken 39 wickets at 21.28 in his nine Tests since making his debut against New Zealand at Lord’s last year but his career is at a crossroads, with off-field issues and fitness concerns a constant backdrop to his impressive on-field performances.

He was suspended and fined after offensive historic tweets emerged during his debut last year and then publicly called out by Jon Lewis, England’s bowling coach, for his poor fitness levels after a back spasm limited his involvement in the final Ashes Test at Hobart in January – a Test which culminated in him backing away and being bowled swiping at a full toss to complete an innings defeat.

He travelled to the Caribbean for England’s series against West Indies in March where he was due to lead the attack with Chris Woakes but did not play a game in the series after an recurrence of his back spasms and his involvement in the County Championship this season has been minimal for a number of reasons, including a tooth infection and a bout of food poisoning.

Robinson was omitted from England’s squad for the first two Tests of their three-match series against New Zealand, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday, and his latest setback means he will have scant opportunity to prove his fitness before the third Test at Headingley on June 23: Sussex’s only Championship match before then is against Glamorgan on June 12 and he is not an automatic selection in their T20 side.

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