Jones welcomes senior role
More than a decade has passed since Simon Jones rose through the ranks at Glamorgan.
After returning to his home county from Hampshire on a two-year deal, the 32-year-old fast bowler is now hoping to pass on his knowledge to the club’s latest crop of youngsters.
A key member of England’s Ashes-winning squad in 2005 and one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year for 2006, Jones is well aware of what it takes to make an impact at the highest level.
He believes many of Glamorgan’s current squad have what it takes to enjoy similar success, having spent time on loan at the SWALEC Stadium earlier this year prior to sealing a permanent move back to south Wales.
Jones, who made his first-class debut for the club in 1998, told ecb.co.uk: “I think there’s a lot of talent there. There were games last year, in the Twenty20 especially, where we just lacked that little bit extra, but that’s going to come. That’s how you learn, sometimes not quite getting there in games.
“We’ve got a young squad and these boys are going to be around for a long time. Hopefully I can play a role, as a senior player, to help these guys come along.
“I’m relishing the opportunity because it only seems like yesterday I started at Glamorgan. I’m 32 now and as a senior player I feel obligated to help these boys out and I definitely will.”
“There’s a great blend of youth and experience. I know that’s a bit of a cliché, but there is. We’ve got people like Graham Wagg, Jim Allenby and Wally (Mark Wallace) as captain, which I think is a great move, and Crofty (Robert Croft) is still going, which is unbelievable!
“Then there are boys like Will Owen and Alex Jones. They are going to do well; they just need a little bit of encouragement and help along the way and they will be class players.”
Although Jones admits to being frustrated by a lack of first-team action in his second season at Hampshire, having impressed during the pre-season Caribbean T20, he is keen to emphasise that he left the Rose Bowl on excellent terms and has nothing but praise for chairman Rod Bransgrove and the club’s coaching staff.
“I wasn’t getting selected and I felt in the Twenty20 format I warranted a place in the side,” he explained. “It was tough, but you have to take it on the chin and get on with it.
“It was a bit of a kick in the teeth but you have to do what is right for the team and I can respect what (first team manager) Giles White and Dominic Cork (who was captain at the time) wanted to do.
Jones continued: “Glamorgan approached Rod and Giles, and, to be fair to Rod, he’s always been outstanding with me.
“He’s a good friend of mine and he came back to me and said ‘I want you to stay because it will benefit Hampshire, but I want what’s best for you and your family, so if that means you’re leaving, then that means you’re leaving.’ He was superb and negotiations started from there really.
“It was tough because I have enjoyed my time at Hampshire. They are outstanding people down there and they really looked after me. Everything that they did benefited me and I can’t say a negative word about them.
“Ian Brunnschweiler (the club’s strength and conditioning coach) was superb and Craig de Weymarn the physio has been outstanding, so it’s thanks to those guys and obviously my hard work that I got back to where I was. In terms of pace and playing in 40-over games I feel as good as ever.”
Having been hampered by injuries throughout his career, Jones is now hoping to consistently produce the form that saw him feature in 18 Tests and eight one-day internationals for England between 2002 and 2005.
He refuses to completely rule out a return to the international arena, but acknowledges the stiff task he faces in attracting the attention of England’s selectors.
“I think it will take a lot,” he admitted. “There are a lot of youngsters coming through now and they are doing a superb job.
“The England team at the moment is superb, the strength in depth they have got, they are replicating what the Aussies did for years and years. Andy Flower has done a great job and I think it’s great to see.
“I’ll never give it up, because you want to play at the highest level and represent your country. I’m not going to be devastated if I don’t play but it’s always nice to have that thought in your head to keep you going.”