WELSH DISMAY FOR ACE SIMON
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.