Geraint Jones’ PNG Blog

Thursday 5th December 2013

It’s been a busy past month with Papua New Guinea, but one we should look back on with pride.

I think the final feeling I and the guys have had is ultimately one of disappointment to have got so close to qualifying for the Twenty 20 World Cup.

To get into that play-off game with Hong Kong and then not really play that well left us all devastated. It was a big goal for the guys to get to the World Cup and to not show up in the game that mattered did disappoint everyone.

On the whole, when we look back at it, we beat Ireland in one of the warm up games and then beat the likes of the Netherlands and Namibia. For a county like PNG, to be competing at that level and on that stage is incredible.

The boys put in a hell of a lot of work and sacrifice into that trip. Before I met them in Dubai, they’d already been on the road for at least seven weeks. A few of them have been away from home for about seven or eight months of this year trying to better themselves as cricketers.

They’d been to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, have been playing in Darwin, Adelaide and the Gold Coast, so they’re a dedicated bunch and the professionalism they show is very high and they’ve sacrificed so much for this tour.

The good news is we’ve got another opportunity in the 50 over game over in New Zealand in January, but for some of the guys they will be back home for just over a week before heading to Adelaide to start preparing for that.

Personally, I was very happy with my own form. I did some good work with Simon Willis before I left as I knew I’d be batting higher up in the order and I’d got some unfinished business after the last tournament as I didn’t think I’d contributed enough with the bat.

I wanted to play a bigger role and to be able to contribute regularly and with decent scores all the way through the tournament was satisfying for me.

This 50 over tournament could well turn out to be harder for us with just two qualification places up for grabs and the way the guys play is a bit of an unknown quantity for me.

They’re quite well suited for 20 over cricket as they are incredible in the field and they like to hit the ball, but my understanding is that they can get a bit excited in 50 over cricket and not play it so well in the longer form.

Saying that, they have been playing a lot of 50 over cricket in preparation, so hopefully they will surprise me.

I think my role will stay about the same over in New Zealand and I will stick to just being a batsman. The guy with the gloves is a guy called Jack and I think it is important for him that he carries on doing that as he is the vice-captain.

Even though he is much better in the field than me, it’s in his interests to keep the gloves on as he does a good job behind there. I will be trying hide myself in the field as best I can and batting I will be looking to anchor the side through the innings.

Hopefully, the guys will be able to bat with me and bat around me. That way we should be able to post some good totals.

After all these years of being behind the stumps, I’m enjoying being out in the field, but I try to find a position where the ball’s not being fired too quickly at me!

It is a bit different without the gloves and it’s a bit of an art form trying to master positions like short fine leg. I enjoy all the running around, but it will be different doing it for 50 overs!

Whilst I was away, a couple of major things happened. Firstly I have to congratulate James and Beth on the birth of Samuel. It’s great to be an uncle again and I got my first look at my new nephew on Monday.

He’s coming along nicely and it will prove to be a real change for Treddy having two to look after!

As for the captaincy, I pretty much knew it was happening before I left. Keysey has got proven history as a captain. He’s successful at it, does it well and enjoys doing it.

He’s had that year break in which he has probably had the time to analyse his previous seven years and work out what adjustments need to be made.

He is the one to take us forward for sure and there’s no doubting his cricket brain on the field as he’s one of the best about. Hopefully as a group we can all rally around, play well next year and really push for some trophies.

This next month or so before I go off to New Zealand will keep me busy and I’ve already been into the gym this morning. I plan to get out on my bike a lot, whilst getting back and playing some hockey for Canterbury.

I’ll also be doing some coaching and helping out with the Kent Cricket Board. There are the final stages of trials for the age groups this week, so I’ll be keeping myself busy.

Ultimately, I will be making sure I am keeping myself fit and healthy so that I am raring to go again in January.

Being back at home I plan to spend as much time with the family as I possibly can as it’s always hard being away from any length of time.

When I got back on Saturday I spent about 45 minutes wrestling with the boys in the front room. It was great to see their smiling faces. Even though they had seen me on Skype, it’s not quite the same.

I am already back onto the old routine of being on the school run and I took Tommy swimming yesterday. Those are the kinds of things I miss whilst I am away, so this next month I will be making the most of it.

Until the next blog, have a great Christmas and New Year everyone.


Geraint writes a regular blog for Kent Sports News
Image: Cricket PNG