October 14, 2013

'I want to give T20 a good go'

Interview by Jack Wilson
Newly turned freelance, Simon Jones talks about the 2005 Ashes, Lord's teas, and sleeping next to a snorer

So it's T20 all the way from now on for you. Are you looking forward to the new challenges?
I'm excited about the future. I'm feeling good physically, I'm mentally refreshed, and it's a case of wait and see what happens now. It was nice to finish well in the YB40 final at Lord's, to show what I can do. Hopefully a couple of people saw me in action, but now I'm in that awkward time of just waiting. There are so many competitions in the world, it would be foolish not to try and play anywhere. There are different experiences to be had and different environments to sample. There's T20 leagues in Bangladesh, India, New Zealand and Australia now. The West Indies is one I'd like to go out to, and England, of course. I want to give T20 a good go.

Think back to your first day as a Test cricketer. Batting at 10, you hit 44 off 43 balls. Could you even have imagined that?
It was awesome. I loved my batting. I think it's one of the reasons Duncan Fletcher picked me, because I could do a bit with the bat. I went in with a no-fear attitude. India were a very good team but their bowling was not quite as strong as their batting, although they did have Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and a few others. I thought, "I'm just going to enjoy myself here." Freddie [Flintoff] was at the other end and he told me, "Don't worry about it, it's just a game of cricket, go and hit it.". So I did.

You enjoyed batting then?
Of course, I think you have to. When you're facing someone like Brett Lee, who's steaming in with a load of aggression and trying to intimidate you, it's a great challenge.

Take your mind back to 2005 and that ball to Michael Clarke. Ever find yourself watching it on Youtube?
I've seen it a few times. It keeps me going when I go back and look at some of the stuff I've done. It gives me a little bit of clarity to where I want to go and why I'm putting myself through things. I'm not being big-headed, but it just keeps me on track.

Is that the best ball you've ever bowled?
In terms of where the game was at, and the way I'd set him up with four awayswingers and got one to come back, yes. We were playing an incredible Australian team - one of the best to play the game - and it was a massive occasion. But I've bowled a couple of jaffas in my time.

Edgbaston 2005 - the greatest Test ever. What was it like to play in?
It was a different league - but horrible at the same time. We expected to go out on that last day and turn them over, but Brett Lee and Shane Warne batted incredibly well. Warney is a difficult customer to bowl to and runs carried on coming. When I dropped that catch I thought I'd dropped the Ashes. I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. Luckily the boys kept on going and it was a great feeling for Geraint [Jones] to take that winning catch. Him and Gilchrist had dropped some that series, but that's what pressure does. I was so relieved for him.

"Edgbaston 2005 was a different league - but horrible at the same time"

Was the Ashes win the highlight of your career?
Easily. You don't get better than that. It was the best team that had played the game, who had ten to 15 years of domination, and we beat them. If Australia put out their second team at that time they would have beaten sides. They had some incredible boys on the bench who'd walk into other teams.

Who is the best captain you've played under?
Matthew Maynard was very good. He just wanted you to relax and enjoy yourself. I liked playing under Nasser Hussain as you always knew where you stood with him. He always backed you too. There's one picture of me with my arm around him during my first Test and I was telling him I couldn't feel my legs I was so nervous. He's laughing his head off at me! Warney was like Maynard. He just wanted us to relax, enjoy ourselves and test ourselves.

And the best of them?
I'd have to go with Nasser.

Which batsman from the past would you most like to bowl at?
Don Bradman. His stats are incredible. I know it's a long time ago but I'd still like to have a go at him.

Where in the world do you get the best teas?
Lord's. I always look forward to having a bat and filling my boots at tea. The fitness guys don't like it but the lads do.

Do you keep your old kit for memories?
I do, it's good to look back sometimes. I must have something like 25 cricket bags in the garage full of old stuff that I kept from when I was 12. It's all safe in plastic bags away from the moths.

What's more rewarding, smashing a batsman in the ribs or taking out their off stump?
It depends who the batsman is and if you've got a bit of niggle with them! I'd say getting them out.

In 2006, New Woman magazine did a poll of the world's sexiest men. Do you know where you finished?
(Laughs) Ninth.

Who is the worst room-mate?
A guy I shared with at Glamorgan, Dan Cherry. He was an unbelievable snorer. I ended up beating him with a pillow. He tried his best to lay on his side but then he'd roll over on his back and he'd be gone. It was as if he was cracking nuts in his mouth.

Who is the best Welsh sportsperson of all time?
There are a few, but I'm going with Colin Jackson.

What are you like at other sports?
I played football, rugby, athletics and pretty much everything when I was younger. I was just in a generation that did everything and didn't really have an option. At school I loved football over cricket. I was tiny up until I was 16. I went through Millfield School for three years and just shot up there. I went being 5ft 5ins to 6ft 3ins so quickly. My mum came to pick me up once and she didn't recognise me!

Who is the biggest practical joker?
Matthew Hoggard. He's so mischievous. He changed the password on Duncan Fletcher's laptop once and you could see the annoyance on [Fletcher's] face. When he came in I went down like a prawn sandwich, but Hoggy found it funny! I think he realised afterwards that maybe he shouldn't have done it.