Jones wants Spitfires to bounce back

Thursday 28th June 2012

Men’s First Team

Jones wants Spitfires to bounce back

Geraint Jones is backing his side to secure themselves a place in theFriends Life t20quarter finals, despite losing the last two games.

The 35 year old wicketkeeper was made captain on Tuesday night as theSpitfires lost to the Middlesex Panthers by 48 runs,with Club skipper Rob Key recovering from aneck injury.

Tuesday’s defeat to the Panthers leaves the Spitfires fourth in the Southern Division, three points behind leaders Sussex with a trip to Hove next up on Friday night.

Three more games then follow for the Spitfires as they look to secure a spot amongst the top eight sides in the country and despite being handed the captaincy for the last game, Jones fully expects Key to be fit to lead the side on Friday: “I was right next to him when he banged his head. At that time he did well to play the Hampshire game, but his neck’s not great and he didn’t play against the Panthers, but hopefully he’ll be back for Friday.

“I don’t mind captaining, it’s something different. It’s tough in t20′s, especially when you go for eighty off the first six overs, but that’s what tests you and I thought we did quite well after that for the next eight to ten overs with Tredwell and Ball.

“They helped us claw it back a bit and then we let ourselves down again at the end of Tuesday’s game.”

“Any time a side scores over two hundred, someone’s got to play well and they had two guys (Joe Denly and Paul Stirling) that played really well.

“We know Joe’s a quality player, especially with the white ball and I’ve seen Stirling do that before. He’s got a fantastic eye for it and he hits the ball in funny areas as well, so he makes it tough.”

TheSpitfires have struggled to bowl sides out intheir recent matchesand Jones has said he hopes his bowlers will pick up more wickets early on in games to give them some momentum: “In this form of cricket, bowlers have got to use their heads as to using their variations and we’re probably not quite there at the moment and that’s something we’ll be working really hard on.”

Despite facing a daunting target of 208 to win on Tuesday night, an opening partnership of 90 from Sam Billings and Sam Northeast gave the side a chance and Jones was pleased for the two young batsmen: “Those first four overs Middlesex bowled won them the match, the boys were trying hard out there, but Finn bowled fantastically well and he was supported well at the other end.

“The 90 partnership they put on, they were going at ten or eleven an over, but both of those guys have been playing well all summer with the white ball and it was good that they did it on Sky again.

“That showcased their talents, but for me I’m really pleased for Sam Northeast, because he’s worked hard on the power in his game and he’s regularly clearing the boundaries now. He’s been class in the one day format this year, he’s batted in the middle and up the top in this last game, so he’s shown a real aptitude for the game this year.”

Four wickets in the space of four balls on Tuesday night ruined the Spitfires' hopes of pulling off a great win and Jonesis keen that the side learn from their mistakes: “I made sure I wasn’t the fifth! I then had to tell Nash that it was a hat-trick ball when he was facing Dexter, but that’s one of those things that can happen. We probably needed about fifteen an over at that point and Azhar always backs himself to clear the boundaries, whilst Coles is what he is and tried to whack it.

“It was really disappointing, but we’ve got to pick it up as it’s tough in this group and we’ve played one more game than some of the others. We’ve got four games left and we really need to win those last four.”

That starts at Hove on Friday night and Jones has said it’s not an easy place to go and get a win: “They’re undefeated and on top of the table and they’ve been playing well, but we generally have good games down there and the good thing is we have a bit of time to prepare.”

“That’s a good thing and I think we should have learnt a lot from the last two defeats. The Sussex wicket probably won’t be disimilar to the Canterbury one, so the bowlers should be prepared for that and I’m happy with the way the boys are batting.

“We got to 150 and that was after losing four wickets in four balls, so I feel we can chase down scores as long as they’re not 200.”

Along with Key, the Spitfires have a possibleinjury concern over batsmen Brendan Nash who sustained a wrist injury on Tuesday night, but Jones is expecting he will play against the Sharks: “Hopefully, Keysey will be alright and it will take a lot for him not to play now. Nash just got one on his wrist whilst fielding, but I’m sure he’ll be fine as well.”

The action gets underway at Hove at 7:10pm on Friday night.

Geraint Jones was speaking to Steve Wolfe of KSN:

Photo: Sarah Ansell