Jones wants the number 3 spot

Monday 16th March 2009

KENT wicket keeper Geraint Jones (pictured) says he wants to continue coming in up the order after a successful end to last season when batting at three. The popular glove-man excelled in all forms of cricket last summer and averaged 30 in the LVCounty Championship.

Despite the players not returning until next Monday, Jones is already back and nearly ready for the 2009 season. ’I was back hitting balls in November, because I wanted to carry on the momentum I built up at the end of the season. I finished 2008 batting at three and it has been indicated that there could be the opportunity to do it again. I felt towards the end of last season that I had discovered a technique and way I wanted to play. I now want to build on that again this season.’

So how are things progressing for the Kent and England wicket keeper batsman? ’Things are going very well for me and I’m enjoying it. I feel well prepared for the year ahead. I’ve varied my practice this winter. I’m doing longer sessions and batting in the nets for longer periods. I’m cranking up the bowling machine so it bowls quicker deliveries and I’m changing the settings so it swings more – something that I will need if I come in higher as the new ball obviously moves around more.’

So how difficult will it be for Jones?Will he not find it tough keeping wicket and batting at three? ’No, not really. I’ve enjoyed batting up the order when I’ve been given the chance. If I go from keeping to batting then I always feel that I have my eye in. I’ve experienced opening before, with England, and I want to show more with the bat. I’m pleased that I’ve potentially been given the opportunity to go in higher and I’m really looking forward to hopefully making a positive mark.’

How does preparation vary for Jones?Does he have to do things differently when going in up the order? ’Well it’s certainly a new challenge for me. Batting at 6 or 7, I’ve been used to working with the tail and trying to increase our totals. Now, arguably batting for longer periods will allow me to build a platform both personally and from a team perspective.’

With the small playing squad, younger players could get greater opportunities this summer and Jones is keen for that to happen, as he explains. ’Things are fairly tough for us at Kent because of the small squad, but we don’t want that to act as an excuse. It doesn’t take much for things to really affect what we are trying to do. If we suffer one or two injuries to key players, or lose guys on international duty, then it does affect things. Still there will be an opportunity for the younger players and I think that’s important. I’ve been impressed with the next group coming through, but we won’t know how good they are unless they get a chance at first team level. For instance, Steve Waugh was terrible in the nets but amazing in matches. Other players look a million dollars in the nets but can’t seem to replicate that form in match situations. We are all different.’

Away from cricket, Jones is on the verge of becoming a father for the first time and can’t wait for that to happen. ’It’s the next stage in my life so I’m really looking forward to it. I definitely feel refreshed for it. I thoroughly enjoyed playing for England and I do miss it. I hope to break back into the national set-up, but I’m enjoying the opportunity of spending more time at home. I was away for long periods of time and it was difficult for me and my family. Now I’m getting more time at home, I’m making the most of it.’

Jones is also expanding his interests away from cricket and starting to become self sufficient on his own Kentish farm. ’It’s good to have interests away from the game. If things don’t go well then you need a release from the game. I have chickens, sheep and horses on the farm and I really enjoy looking after them. I might look to expand my range when I finish playing but things are perfectly manageable at present. I supply my friends and family with quality produce and eating what I produce is the best part for me!’

Finally, with the season ever closer, how does Jones feel Kent will do this season? ’I think we have the squad to do well. I hope we can carry on our one day form because that is where we have excelled in the last two seasons. In the LVCounty Championship, the aim is obviously to return immediately to Division One, but it won’t be easy. We will come up against some quality sides and it will be a new challenge for most of us. We are going to different grounds and will play different sides so it will be a good refresher for us. We certainly won’t steamroller the teams we come up against but I am confident that we can beat them and enjoy another good season.’

Geraint Jones was in conversation with Jamie Reid

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.