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September 12, 2013
Simon Jones, the former England seamer, is going to pursue a career as a T20 freelance after announcing his retirement from first-class and List A cricket from the end of the season. He is expected to play for Glamorgan in the Yorkshire Bank 40 final on September 21 and will then focus on securing potentially lucrative contracts to play in T20 competitions around the world.
Jones is coming to the end of a two-year deal with Glamorgan but will discuss a potential T20 contract with the county's incoming chief executive, Hugh Morris, in the close season. Injuries have blighted Jones' career since he became an Ashes winner in 2005 but the 34-year-old is not quite ready to follow his former England team-mate Matthew Hoggard into full retirement just yet.
"If I get the gigs I want to get I won't be resting much," Jones said. "T20 is the option that we're looking at and I'm excited at the prospect of playing in different tournaments if I can. Getting back on the park is something I've worked for a long time and for me to carry on playing it's the obvious choice, to go down that route, as the likes of Shaun Tait have done.
"There's a lot of opportunities out there but you've got to get a gig. I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully I get the opportunities I feel I deserve, because I still feel I have a lot to offer the game."
Jones will certainly be the first Welshman to take the path of the T20 itinerant. Andrew Flintoff, another of Jones's 2005 team-mates, planned to end his career that way, before injury had the final word, and while Tait, the former Australia bowler, is among several one-time internationals - such as New Zealand's Scott Styris and Jacob Oram - to play just the shortest format, few England-qualified players have seriously entertained the idea.
The choice may seem a little surprising, given that Jones only made his senior debut in the format in 2008 and managed one T20 appearance for Glamorgan in 2013. His T20 record comprises 43 wickets at 21.46, with an economy of 7.43.
"It's giving me the opportunity to play for another couple of years," Jones said of his decision. "I still feel good in my body, I still feel good in my mind and I still feel I've got the skills and the pace to perform at the highest level. We'll see what happens."
Despite plans to play Championship cricket this year, Jones has only featured in Glamorgan's limited-overs teams, missing the early part of the season due to continued problems with his knee. But he hopes to end on a high with victory at Lord's a week on Saturday and could still be turning out in Cardiff next summer.
"If Glamorgan do want to keep me for the T20 I'd be delighted to stay but if they don't I'm going to pursue other options," he said. "I've had some niggles this year, which have happened in the gym. Glamorgan have a settled team in the four-day stuff and I wasn't quite going to get in there. It has been a frustrating season but this will hopefully be another chapter in my cricketing career."
Glamorgan's head of elite performance, Matthew Mott, who will be leaving the county at the end of the season, added: "Simon has shown great character and determination to keep pushing himself despite his time out of the game at Glamorgan. We wish him well in his endeavours to concentrate on T20 and thank him for his contribution both on and off the field.
"It is a smart and well-thought out decision and I am sure that a number teams around the world will be keen on him given his increased availability for T20 competitions. He is still in great shape and has the passion to keep playing and bowling quick for a few more years to come. Hopefully he can sign off his one-day career with Glamorgan in a winning team at Lord's."
Simon Jones was speaking ahead of the Yorkshire Bank 40 final at Lord's on Saturday September 21. Tickets are available from tickets.lords.org
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
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Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG