England fast bowler speaks out September 30, 2006

Reverse swing is entirely legal, says Simon Jones

Cricinfo staff

'The thing with reverse swing is that you don't need the ball to be in a big state. It will go if it's just a little bit scuffed up on one side' © Getty Images

Simon Jones, the England fast bowler, has hit out at suggestions that reverse swing is only possible when the ball has been tampered with. In an interview with Western Mail, he clarified that the entire process of generating reverse swing was a legitimate one. "People who say reverse swing is not possible without ball-tampering obviously know nothing about cricket," Jones said. "Have they ever bowled with a ball that's reversing? Have they ever bowled with a normal ball?

"If people make big statements they should be able to back them up. But I ignored those stories because I know what I did was legal. I would never ever do anything outside the laws of the game. And, anyway, how could you get away with scuffing the ball? In the Ashes series [in 2005] there was something like 40-odd cameras on the ground. You'd be picked up straight away if you tried something."

Jones also indicated that Troy Cooley, the former England bowling coach who is now handling the job for Australia, had the biggest hand to play in teaching him the art of reverse swing. "It's taken me a long time to develop it. I did a lot of work in Australia with Troy Cooley and that's where I first learned it.

"It was great because it gave me an extra string to my bow. I was able to swing it conventionally but then I struggled with the older ball. The thing with reverse swing is that you don't need the ball to be in a big state. It will go if it's just a little bit scuffed up on one side.

"At Old Trafford [where he took Test-best figures of 6-53 against Australia] it went massive. The square was so rough that the ball was old after 17 overs. There's no need to tamper with the ball, it will reverse swing because of the condition of the ground. No problem. It's all above board." Jones was one the main bowling stars in last year's Ashes, taking 18 wickets in four Tests at an average of 21, but has since been on the sidelines with a knee injury which has ruled him out of the Ashes later this year in Australia.

Jones hasn't played in the last year, but was one of the 13 players who was handed a central contract by the England board. Jones confessed in the interview that he wasn't sure he would be one of the chosen ones. "It was at the back of my mind that I wouldn't get it," he said. "I haven't played for a while but England have been very good to me. They've supported me through my injuries and given me the backing that I needed.

"I got injured playing for England and they've looked after me really well. But you don't find out until that week and you're obviously thinking, 'Am I going to get one?' If I hadn't got one I'd have played for Glamorgan and pushed for another, but it's a nice feeling to know England have backed me."

Talking about the injured left knee, on which he underwent a keyhole surgery in June this year, Jones said he was happy with his recovery, and that he was still in with a chance of playing next year's World Cup. "The bone has healed really well. I've been advised to take as long as possible with the knee. I've had the operation now and I don't want another one.

"If that means me missing the Ashes, then so be it - even though the series is going to be as big as the last one. My next seven or eight years is what's important to me and it's my career at the end of the day. I could push it now, go out there and injure it. The knee is feeling really good at the moment and if it stays like that I'll push on a bit more. The World Cup is still a possibility for me."