Former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones has signed a two-year contract with Gloucestershire and will captain the side in first-class cricket next season. Jones is expected to play as a specialist batsman and assumes the captaincy due to Michael Klinger's absence for the first part of 2015.
Jones, an Ashes winner who played 34 Tests and 49 ODIs for England, was recently released by Kent after losing his place to Sam Billings. He spent time on loan with Gloucestershire during the 2014 season, playing in three Championship and two T20 matches, and was identified by director of cricket John Bracewell as the man to provide cover for Klinger, who has been captain in all formats since joining in 2013.
"With Michael Klinger not re-joining us until June next year, Geraint will captain the team in four-day cricket for the 2015 season. We have spoken to Michael about that and he is comfortable with it," Bracewell said. "We intend using Geraint as a batsman and his presence on the field will be invaluable in offering advice and assistance to our young bowling attack."
Jones last played for England in 2006 but has since represented Papua New Guinea, the country of his birth. He has scored 8615 first-class runs, including 15 hundreds, at an average of 32.50 and his arrival will add to Gloucestershire's batting strength after the departures of Alex and Will Gidman. Jones' wicketkeeping experience means he can also provide back-up for Gloucestershire's two regular glovemen, Gareth Roderick and Cameron Herring.
"Firstly, I'd like to thank Kent County Cricket Club for the fantastic 15 seasons I spent with them," Jones said. "I learnt a huge amount there and without the opportunities they gave me I never would have had the career that I have.
"Following an enjoyable month on loan with Gloucestershire during 2014, I am excited to be joining the club on a full-time basis and for the challenges that lie ahead. They have a great set up here and I am looking forward to taking on the role as four-day captain and to working in tandem with Michael Klinger. This is a young and talented squad and I relish the opportunity of working with them and to playing a part in their future development.
"I also look forward to working with John Bracewell and his coaching team. They impressed me greatly during my loan period so the chance to work full time with them I know will have big benefits."