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The pen has proved mightier than the bat for Sam Robson during cricket’s hiatus enforced by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Middlesex opener would normally be focused on the county batsmen’s holy grail of 1000 first-class runs this time of year.

However, with the global pandemic having prevented a shot in anger, Robson and several teammates have switched their attention to essays for a degree in Business and Sports Management with the University of Hertfordshire.

The right-hander, in lockdown with girlfriend Steph at their flat near Queen’s Park, admits he’s cramming.

“I wouldn’t say I’m the star pupil,” he said candidly. “I started later than some of the other boys, so I’ve had some ground to make up.

“I try and nail as much as I can in the winter and then chip away through the summer.

“And at this time, with everything that’s going on, I’ve tried to use it as an opportunity to get as much done as I can because I know when the season does start there’s a fair chance it’ll be pretty manic.”

Robson is hoping it’s third time lucky as far as academia is concerned. Never a swot at school, he bailed on a first attempt at tertiary education when cricket again won the battle for his affections.

“I did okay at school - I didn’t talk much in class but spent too much time at cricket and football training to get enough studying and homework done,” he confessed.

“Then, earlier in my cricket career I did an accounting degree for a year but threw it in because it didn’t offer the flexibility I needed.

“It was a time where you put so much effort into growing as a teenager cricketer, when you’re in amongst it you just want to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance to perform well.

“This course is flexible and targeted at sportspeople, so if you need extensions they’re pretty good with that.

“Cricket isn’t a long career, and this shows people you’ve been able to display a bit of focus and commitment towards broadening your horizons.”

Before Middlesex fans panic, their top of the order stalwart has no imminent plans to retire. On the contrary, he believes time is still very much on his side and members may not have seen the best of him.

He’s still ambitious too - hungry for another County Championship medal to add to the one Middlesex won in such dramatic fashion in 2016. So, there’s no chance of Father Time, who overlooks his home ground at Lord’s, calling time on his ‘innings’ just yet.

“I’m certainly not looking towards the end of my career,” continued Robson. “I’m 30 now, so hopefully as a batsman, if I can stay fit, my best years are ahead of me.

“It would be great to get back into Division One and have another stab at trying to win the Championship.”

With no domestic cricket until August 1 at the earliest, it may be a while before red-ball specialist Robson takes guard again.

He’s philosophical; worried more for veterans whose contracts are about to expire than his own future.

“If there’s just a few T20s, well that’s life,” he added.

“Everyone’s missed a lot of cricket regardless of what form you specialise in. That’s a hell of a kick in the teeth for professional cricketers, but there are people far worse off.

“For me and guys younger than me, we’re lucky we’ve still got a fair bit of cricket in us.

“But, there will be some blokes coming near the end of their careers, who, if all of a sudden you take a year away from them, that could be them done which would be disappointing.”

By Jon Batham of the ECB Reporters Network.

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