Llanelli Star - - CRICKET AND RUGBY -

SI­MON Jones, the last Welsh­man to play cricket for Eng­land, ad­mits he’s frus­trated his coun­try haven’t mus­tered one player to com­pete in the sum­mer’s World Cup on home soil.

Nearly 15 years have passed with­out a Welsh player reach­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket, stretch­ing all the way back to Jones’s swan­song in the fourth Test of the 2005 Ashes.

The 40-year-old from Llanelli is at a loss to ex­plain why none of his fel­low coun­try­man have fol­lowed him to higher hon­ours and can’t see an end to the bar­ren run.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing and frus­trat­ing for me per­son­ally,” said Jones, speak­ing at the un­veil­ing of a mu­ral in Cardiff city cen­tre that gives fans the chance to win World Cup tick­ets.

“I was the last one and that’s a shame be­cause I think there’s a lot of tal­ent in Wales.

“I don’t know when the next one is com­ing from and with the lack of a pro­duc­tion line it feels like some­one needs to come along and blow ev­ery­one away.”

James Har­ris has long been the coun­try’s best hope of pro­duc­ing an in­ter­na­tional crick­eter and he ended last sea­son as Mid­dle­sex’s top County Cham­pi­onship wicket-taker.

Har­ris, born, like Jones, in Mor­ris­ton Hos­pi­tal, burst on to the scene when he be­came the youngest player to ever play for Glam­or­gan’s Sec­ond XI and the Welsh Mi­nor Coun­ties side.

With the bat, Aneurin Don­ald has turned heads with his power-hit­ting, par­tic­u­larly in the shorter forms of the game, and moved to Hamp­shire last year in search of higher recog­ni­tion.

Jones backed the de­ci­sion of Don­ald, from Grovesend and like Har­ris a for­mer pupil at Pon­tard­du­lais Com­pre­hen­sive, to leave his home coun­try to pur­sue pro­fes­sional am­bi­tions.

“I played for Eng­land when I was at Glam­or­gan, but I was lucky be­cause I had a good side around me,” said Jones.

“You have to re­spect the am­bi­tions of the young lads who want to progress. When I heard he was go­ing, I thought ‘you go for it’ be­cause I never wanted to get to 40 and won­der ‘what if?’.

“To go to the Rose Bowl, it’s a great wicket for him to bat on and he’s given him­self the best op­por­tu­nity to play for Eng­land.

“Some peo­ple in Wales will say he’s Welsh so should have stayed at Glam­or­gan — no. It’s a short ca­reer, he could get a bouncer, break his hand and it’s gone.

“At the end of the day, as a player you are a com­mod­ity and your team won’t think twice about get­ting rid of you if they think you’re not worth any­thing. There’s no loy­alty in sport, none.

“I think he can play for Eng­land, I don’t see why not.

“I just want to see him re­ally work hard, he’s got a great at­ti­tude and loves the game. I’ve seen him play some amaz­ing in­nings, he just needs a run of games to prove what he can do.”

ICC Cricket World Cup Tro­phy Tour, driven by Nis­san, com­mences a 100-day tour of Eng­land and Wales and will be at over 100 lo­ca­tions and events be­fore ar­riv­ing back in Lon­don ready for the open­ing match on May 30.

Si­mon Jones cel­e­brates tak­ing the wicket of West Indies cap­tain Brian Lara dur­ing the first Test be­tween West Indies and Eng­land in 2004.

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