ALTHOUGH Worcestershire didn’t have any representatives in the England team that has just secured a series win over the West Indies at Trent Bridge, New Road bowler Richard Jones played a part in the home side’s preparations.
With Steve Rhodes’ team without a game last week, the County’s director of cricket accompanied paceman Jones to Nottinghamshire’s headquarters where he was used as a net bowler to put the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook through their paces ahead of the decisive second Test.
The primary purpose of Jones’ invite was clearly to ensure the England batting line-up were in good knick ahead of the West Indies clash, but mixing in such an environment will no doubt have knock-on benefits for the Worcestershire seamer.
Jones said: “I was invited to bowl in the nets with England a couple of times last year and they asked me up again last week. It was a great experience and it was good to meet up with England bowling coach David Saker to chat about my bowling.
“I enjoyed it and it was good to keep ticking over while we didn’t have a game. I ended up bowling for about an hour and 10 minutes for the full session. I bowled at all of the England batsmen, did quite well against a few of them and managed to bowl Jonathan Trott.
“Kevin Pietersen played a few aggressive shots against me, but as he was warming up for the Test match and I bowled pretty decent areas, he kept it steady.”
Jones added: “I mainly chatted with the coaches as the England bowlers weren’t there apart from Steve Finn and Graham Onions, but I got to know David a bit more.
“I think he is taking a bit of a vested interest in me and it was quite different to working with the coaches at Worcestershire. His job isn’t to do anything technical because at that level the bowlers are technically sound, so he talks more about tactics.
“He is quite good at pumping up your tyres and making you feel good, as well as explaining how to bowl on flat wickets or when the ball isn’t swinging so much.
“I have been looking to work on those types of things for a while and have been practicing some of the things he told me.”
Jones has stepped up to the plate for Worcestershire in four-day cricket this year with his haul of 27 wickets costing just a shade over 24 each with a best bowling analysis of 6-32 at Trent Bridge on the opening day of the season.
Only three bowlers in the country — Andre Adams of Nottinghamshire, David Balcombe of Hampshire and Kent’s Matt Coles — have claimed more first-class victims than Jones so far this term and they’ve all bowled considerably more overs.
This impressive opening to the campaign was not lost on England head coach Andy Flower, as Jones explained: “I spoke briefly with Andy and he thanked me for going along and congratulated me on my start to the season.
“However, I am not thinking about the England team just now, but representing my country is something I’d love to do in the future. At the moment, I am just focused on doing well for Worcestershire.”