An Interview with… Geraint Jones

Geraint Jones has slipped under the radar of many a cricket expert nationwide. A quietly assured season, his best for 4 years.

A trusty pair of hands behind the stumps and a trusty willow wielder down the order.

Along with Mark Davies and Sam Northeast, Jones is the other main contender for Kent’s player of the season.

I chatted to him earlier today for BBC Radio Kent to reflect on a new contract and a look ahead to the remainder of his career at the St. Lawrence Ground…

Ben Croucher: Geraint, another one/two years at Kent…

Geraint Jones: Yeah, definitely a year with a possibility of a second one so I’m really happy with that. It took a bit of negotiation. We got there in the end. I always knew I wanted to play as long as I could at Kent. I didn’t want to go anywhere. The right outcome has come out in end.

BC: Cricket is a bit different to football with transfers. You’re pretty settled with your family in these parts.

GJ: I’ve played all my proper cricket at Kent. I consider myself a fairly loyal person. I didn’t have any other thoughts of other counties. Whether I would have been wanted, that’s another thing. I’ve had a good stint at Kent and I wanted that to continue.

BC: There was a lot of talk at the start of the year about this new, young chap called Billings. Whilst he hasn’t disappointed, you’ve risen to the challenge…

GJ: The good thing is that Bilbo has come on. With the white ball especially, he’s played fantastically. It made me aware of my game. Competition of places is a fantastic thing. He had the week of his life in the summer when he got 140 in that one day game and then went off in the twos and smacked a lot of runs. He’s still not the finished article and that’s where I come into it. I think I’ve still got some really good cricket ahead of me. I was really happy with my performances this year. I always look at my contribution on how it affects the team. I’ve never been an individual stat watcher. For me, it’s more about team results. When I do look at my stats, they’re alright. I averaged 40+ in championship cricket, 150 in the CB40 getting out once. I was there when Sam got his 100 and helped him get to that. The partnerships I’ve been involved in this year is what’s pleased me most. Stevo and I at Essex when we were in a load of strife and I was out there when Mike Powell got his first 100 in four years. My game I’ve felt has been in a really good place this year. That’s been really pleasing.

BC: Have you had to change the way you’ve played this year?

GJ: Not really. Jimmy has made me very aware of my role at number seven. Batting with somebody up the order who has runs under their belt and my role batting with the tale. It’s the first time in a long time that somebody has put that added pressure on me. The one disappointing thing in my year was that I didn’t get an individual hundred. I think I had seven 50+ scores, and most of them were around 70-80. Having done the work to bat through with the tail, I didn’t quite finish it off. He gave me a bit of a telling off when I got 48 or 49 against Yorkshire and I was batting a bit too attackingly.

BC: And your glovework has been just as impressive too.

GJ: I’m still enjoying doing it and that’s a big factor. I’m in the game every ball. I feel I can wake up in the middle of winter and be able to keep to a decent standard. The work I have put in over the years is engrained now. As you get older, that’s what should be happening.

BC: How much longer have you got?

GJ: At least another two! I’d like to think I’ve got the physicality and the ability to get through to the 40 mark. That’s four years off. You mention young Billings. He could be a world beater in two years and that’s me done. I still love playing the game and that’s why I want to keep playing as long as I can.

BC: It’s the same squad for next season.  How important is it to retain the core players for 2013?

GJ: We were very lucky this year with injuries, especially on the bowling front. That is my big concern for next year. To be able to keep the likes of Davies and Shreck is great. Unfortunately we’re losing Simon Cook but that’s a decision I don’t make. We’re looking to build in the winter because Mark Davies played this year but his record with injuries isn’t great. Ash Shaw has had some horrendous shin issues, he’s a bit of an unknown. I’d still like us to scour the country for some more bowling depth. If we can do that, we can bring in some rotation. By the end of the year, Stevo, Davies and Shrecky were just running on empty. Going into that last game, it was pretty evident. That would be my challenge to the powers that be of Kent County Cricket Club. Find some more bowling.

BC: It’s been nine months with Jimmy Adams at the helm, what’s your assessment?

GJ:  He’s turned things around. He’s brought in a completely different mindset going back six, seven, eight years. The way Jimmy has come in and the focus he’s given individuals. He doesn’t take any nonsense. It’s his mindset in the way he plays. He wants us to value our wicket like there’s nothing else. He wants bowlers to go for less than 3 runs an over. I’ve been really impressed with Jimmy. Catching has frustrated him. He was a good catcher. I’d give him an above average score.

BC: How do you think England are going to get on in Sri Lanka?

GJ:  In terms of an all round squad, England have got pretty much all bases covered. We’ve seen some good wickets. As the tournament goes on, I think they’ll get poorer and open up potentially three spin options. Leading into it, I fancy their chances because of that balanced squad and the ability of that balanced squad to counter any conditions that’s thrown at them.

BC: And finally, what are your plans for the next few months?

GJ: Benefit stuff is coming fairly thick and fast. It’s been a tough year on that so I’d like to finish that well. A bit of golf. Housework. My wife has a list of jobs for me to do. Take a bit of time off to recover and then back full time in the gym as of November.