A strapping and skiddy fast bowler, Simon Jones fought back from a grievous career-threatening knee injury to become an integral member of England’s triumphant Ashes-winning team in 2005. Jones’s pace and mastery of reverse-swing carried him to 18 wickets at 21 in four Tests, before he was forced to sit out a nervy final match due to an ankle problem. Jones’ entire career has been blighted by injury, right from his debut in 2002 and he hasn’t been able to add to his England career since 2005, while twice moving counties from Worcestershire and Hampshire.
His first experience of Ashes cricket came on the 2002-03 tour Down Under, having made his debut the previous summer against India, when he was selected as England’s great white hope. But his tour ended abruptly on the opening day of the series at Brisbane, when he slid to prevent a boundary and ruptured a cruciate ligament in his right knee. He fought back courageously after a six-month lay-off, aided by the memories of the taunts he had received while laying stricken on the outfield, and by March 2004, he was back to a good pace and preparing himself for a tour of the Caribbean.
He played in all four Tests, and helped England to a series win with 15 wickets, but he was very much the fourth member of the attack, forever fighting to hold off the challenge from James Anderson. All that began to change at Port Elizabeth in 2004-05, when his inspired fourth-day spell – and a rare diving catch at fine leg – secured a notable victory over South Africa. By the start of the 2005 season, he had regained the yard of pace he had mislaid after his injury, and added a new and mysterious extra element as well – reverse-swing.
The bamboozling inswinger with which he plucked Michael Clarke’s off stump at Old Trafford was one of the images of the summer, as was his part in the match-turning 51-run stand for the tenth wicket with Andrew Flintoff at Edgbaston. His father, Jeff, played 15 Tests for England as a feisty left-arm seamer in the 1960s. But he, too, had his career curtailed by injury.
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