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News

Eve Jones: 'Professionalism has taken my game to another level'

Opener targets England chance after starring for Phoenix and Sparks

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
28-Sep-2021
Eve Jones got the Phoenix innings going, Birmingham Phoenix vs London Spirit, Women's Hundred, Edgbaston, July 23, 2021

Eve Jones was a mainstay of Birmingham Phoenix's Hundred campaign  •  Getty Images

If any more evidence was needed - and it's become abundantly clear this summer - of the positive knock-on effects from professionalising domestic women's cricket in England, look no further than Eve Jones.
The first uncapped cricketer to win a player-voted PCA award, cinch PCA Women's Player of the Year Jones has gone from having to shoehorn her own training around a day job coaching in schools and clubs to fitting her sessions as a coach around the times she trains as a professional athlete.
The difference has, in her words, been "massive". After racking up 808 runs across the Hundred, Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup, opening batter Jones secured her first WBBL contract, joining Melbourne Renegades for this year's edition starting on October 14.
"We've had a lot more time to dedicate to training," said Jones, one of 41 women awarded domestic contracts for 2021. "We had a whole winter training with Sparks three, four times a week so I think that's definitely had a massive impact on my game.
"I've come into the season with a lot of confidence and I've had a lot of support and belief given to me by my team so that also helps. Being a professional cricketer has definitely taken my game to another level."
Jones, 29, was speaking following the 52nd cinch PCA Awards, the biggest awards ceremony in English cricket. She is also the PCA Women's Overall Domestic MVP and the Charlotte Edwards Cup Player of the Year.
Playing for Central Sparks, Jones was the leading run-scorer in the Charlotte Edwards Cup with 276 runs at an average of 55.20 and third-highest on the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy charts with 299 runs at 42.71.
Jones also scored 233 runs for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred at an average of 29.12 and with a strike rate of 118.27, making her the tournament's fourth-highest run-scorer. Ahead of her were international stars Dane van Niekerk and Jemimah Rodrigues and rising England batter Sophia Dunkley, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season and who was shortlisted for the Women's Player of the Year award alongside Jones, England vice-captain Nat Sciver and Danielle Gibson of Western Storm.
Jones, who boarded a plane to Australia on Monday, hoped the WBBL would provide another shop window for her to press a long-held ambition to one day play for England.
"I've always had aspirations of playing for England and if I can keep performing and winning games for my teams, then hopefully that'll give me an edge to try and break into that England squad," Jones said.
"It's very difficult to break into because there's some fantastic players in there. That's all I could do at the end of the day, keep on improving and keep putting in performances.
"Hopefully the Big Bash will give me more assistance, if I can keep performing in that and on the big stage."
Jones admits frustration at not yet earning an international call-up.
"I'd say there is a little bit of frustration there," Jones said. "I can only keep doing what I'm trying to do and perform and score runs and help my team win.
"It's a really difficult team to break into so I'm just trying to make sure that I'm ready if and when I get picked. The competitions that are available for us to play in and putting it on the big stage in front of thousands of people should hold me in good stead if I do get that England call."
As if to exacerbate her frustrations, England experimented with a long batting line-up in the recently completed tour by New Zealand, where the hosts struggled with a misfiring middle order.
Tammy Beaumont is a lock as opener as England prepare for the Ashes, starting in late January, and their World Cup defence in March, having come through a lean ODI series against New Zealand to post a dominant century in the fifth and final match.
Lauren Winfield-Hill struggled to convert starts opening alongside Beaumont in eight ODIs against India and New Zealand over the summer, with T20 opener Danni Wyatt enjoying success after moving into the ODI middle order.
Even if she does not earn selection for the Ashes, Jones can aim for a place on the accompanying England A tour of Australia.
"I feel like I'm just coming into the peak of my career," Jones said. "If I get selected on that tour and if I can perform in that then you're always in a good position then to get called up to the squad."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo