The cricket world was left gobsmacked on Sunday when England's decision not to play a frontline spinner in the second Ashes Test culminated in paceman Ollie Robinson bowling off-spin.
England dropped Jack Leach after he was pulverised by Australia's batters in the first Test, going with the five-pronged pace attack of Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes in Adelaide.
Captain Joe Root bowled 20 overs of off-spin in the first innings, and managed to pick up the wicket of Travis Head.
However Root was off the field for the majority of the first session on Sunday after being struck in the groin during a nets session.
So when stand-in skipper Stokes wanted to mix things up and try a spinner, Robinson switched from seam-up to spin.
And the 28-year-old wasn't half-bad, with CricViz revealing that Robinson generated 2.4 degrees of drift in his first over, above the global finger-spinner average of 1.6 degrees.
CricViz also revealed that Robinson was spinning the ball more than Leach did in Brisbane.
But despite not embarrassing himself, fans and commentators were left raging that England's nightmare start to the Ashes had descended into a paceman bowling spin.
the competitiveness of this series has just reached a new low #Ashes
— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) December 19, 2021
I don’t have strong opinions on the WTC over rate penalty issue … but Ollie Robinson bowling off spin does rather make a mockery of a series that’s been marketed as the ultimate in Test cricket.
— Michael Appleton (@michelappleton) December 19, 2021
— Pranav Shinde 🎯 (@pranavvshinde) December 19, 2021
The footage of Robinson bowling spin is just embarrassing. Why are we flying 2 young leg spinners home on Tuesday? Surely if we cannot find a control spinner we go with a wicket taking option? Is this trip not exposing that the red ball strategy is all wrong.
— Aladdin son (@SonAladdin) December 19, 2021
Ollie Robinson bowling spin? Well that just says it all 🙄.
If the trend continues this could be a severely embarrassing tour. Big changes needed!
— Ben Hall (@Ben_Hall1990) December 19, 2021
England failed to take 10 wkts in both innings 😂 and also Robinson bowling off spin just to get through a set no. of overs is a disgrace to the game🤬
— Aditya Rai (@AdityaR80584996) December 19, 2021
Robinson bowling spin is an absolute joke! what a kick in the teeth that is for the spinners
— Matt Derham (@mattderz) December 19, 2021
England admits mistake in not playing a spinner
Speaking after the fourth day's play, England's camp admitted they should have picked a spinner, conceding they misjudged conditions for the day-night Test in Adelaide.
England's bowling coach John Lewis said they expected more swing and less spin, but they got the opposite.
And now they're facing another crushing defeat to Australia on Monday when, set 486 runs to win, they resume at 4-82.
"The wicket is obviously turning," Lewis said after Sunday's play.
"And we felt the ball would move around under the lights a little bit more than it has.
"In hindsight, you might say we should have picked a different side. But at the time, we felt like we picked a team that would win the game."
England ignored the warnings of Adelaide Oval's head groundsman Damian Hough.
On match eve, Hough was asked if England would make a mistake by not playing a specialist spinner.
"Yeah, I think so. History says that the pitch will spin," Hough said.
England then named a team without a specialist spinner, which led to the farcical scenes of Robinson bowling offies.
"It wasn't in the plan," Lewis said. "However he has done it before, he has done it at Sussex."
In fact, Robinson had bowled 26 overs of off-spin for Sussex in his career.
"It (off-spin) is something he did as a kid," Lewis said.
"He started as a batter and an offspinner, so it's not an alien skill to him.
"It's something he can do. It's something he practises not often in the nets but he does practice it.
"It's another string to his bow and I think he actually bowled it okay."
Set a world record target of 468 runs to win, England crashed to 4-82 at stumps after a double strike from Jhye Richardson and late blows from Mitchell Starc put Australia on the verge of victory.
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