Walter Robins was born in Stafford and was educated at Highgate School and Cambridge University. He played football for Nottingham Forest and first-class cricket for Middlesex, Cambridge University and England. He was a useful right-handed batsman and a capable leg-break bowler, who played in 258 first-class matches for the county, taking 669 wickets at an average of 22.28, with a personal best of 8/69. He was an adventurous captain who was prepared to take risks, in order to gain a positive result. He captained Middlesex County Cricket Club during three spells (1935-1938, 1946-1947 and 1950) and led them to the County Championship in 1947. He stood down from the captaincy in 1948 due to his business interests and may have contemplated retirement from cricket but he remained an occasional first-class player until 1958.
Robins was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1930.
He took 217 first-class catches, and 12 in Test matches, yet he infamously dropped Don Bradman during the third Test of England’s 1936/37 Ashes tour. Captain Gubby Allen placed Robins at square leg with instructions to run to long leg as soon as the fast bowler sent down a bouncer. Bradman duly hooked and Robins, running before the ball was struck, got under the catch only to fumble and drop it. He apologised only for Allen to reply “Don’t give it a thought Walter, you’ve probably cost us the Ashes, but don’t give it a thought.” Bradman went on to make 270, Australia won the match by 365 runs and took the series 3:2.
Robins captained England for the three Test series at home to New Zealand in 1937, winning it 1-0. He later became Chairman of the England Test Selectors. He died in Marylebone, following a long illness, aged 62. His son Charles Robins became a first-class cricketer, as did his son-in-law, Kenneth Came who was also a career officer in the British Army.