England v South Africa: Ollie Robinson recalled for first two Tests

By Stephan ShemiltChief cricket writer
Ollie Robinson
Ollie Robinson has taken 39 wickets in nine Tests for England

Pace bowler Ollie Robinson has been recalled to the England squad for the first two Tests against South Africa.

The 28-year-old has not played a Test since the final match of the Ashes series in January.

Robinson comes in for fellow seamer Jamie Overton, who has been ruled out with hand and foot injuries sustained playing for Surrey.

The first Test in the three-match series begins at Lord's on Wednesday, 17 August.

The only other change from the squad that pulled off a remarkable win against India at Edgbaston in July is the omission of wicketkeeper Sam Billings, with Ben Foakes fit to return behind the stumps.

Sussex's Robinson enjoyed a fine debut year in Test cricket, taking 39 wickets in nine matches at an average of 21.28.

But, during his last match for England, the fifth Test against Australia in Hobart, Robinson was told to "improve" his fitness by bowling coach Jon Lewis.

He subsequently missed all three Tests in the 1-0 series defeat by West Indies in March with a back problem and various fitness issues blighted his start to the home summer.

Robinson had an injection in his back in June and returned to action after more than two months out last week, taking nine wickets for Sussex in their defeat by Nottinghamshire.

He is set to continue his comeback for England Lions against South Africa in a four-day match at Canterbury next week, after which his fitness will be assessed ahead of the first Test.

In Robinson's absence, Matthew Potts impressed in England's 3-0 series defeat of New Zealand and the win against India that followed.

Those four wins have marked a spectacular turnaround in England's form under new captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum following an 18-month period where they won only once in 17 matches.

They are now looking to win five Tests in succession for the first time since 2018.

South Africa arrive as the leaders of the World Test Championship table and have lost only one of their past six series.

However, they have lost their last three series against England, a run that dates back to 2012.

Meanwhile, the dates for England's seven-match T20 series in Pakistan - their first tour of the country in 17 years - have been confirmed.

The first match, on 20 September in Karachi, is just over a week after the final Test against South Africa ends.

It is followed by three further matches in Karachi on 22, 23 and 25 September, then three more games in Lahore on 28 and 30 September, and 2 October.

The dates for a three-Test series at the end of the year are yet to be announced.

England squad for first two Tests v South Africa: Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root.

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