A rarity in English cricket, Robin Hobbs was a leg-spinner who played Test cricket. After making his debut for Essex in 1961, he went on to play for England in 1967, and after 14 years with Essex spent four years with Suffolk before returning to first-class cricket with Glamorgan, captaining them in 1979.
He bowled his leg-breaks and well disguised googlies from a moderate run, and nicely flighted. A fine county player, he did well to play for England, although never really showed himself as a Test class spinner, able to contain but not sufficiently penetrative. A modest batsman he astonished everyone, not least of all himself, by slamming one of the fastest centuries in cricket history (44 minutes) for Essex against the touring Australians in 1975. Hobbs said afterwards that he went out with the objective of having a good slog, and entertaining the crowd. A likeable and popular man he was a fine fielder in the covers. He played for England four times in 1967, three times against India, and once against Pakistan, with modest success, and was picked to tour the West Indies the following winter, where he played just once. A year later he toured Pakistan, and was picked for the Third Test, but did not bowl or bat as the match was abandoned on the third day. He made one final Test appearance against Pakistan in 1971, but after failing to take a wicket, went back to County cricket. It was over twenty-five years before England included a wrist spinner again.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)