Simon Jones has been added to England's Test squad for the West Indies after proving his fitness and form during the England A tour of Malaysia and India. The England selectors left a place open for the Glamorgan paceman when they announced their squad for the Caribbean in January but delayed naming him until they had seen him bowl in Asia.
Initially there were fears that Jones would not make the tour after further concern over the condition of his right knee forced him to withdraw from a couple of one-day games in India. However, rest and physiotherapy proved to be all that was required to get the 25-year-old back on the field. From there the fast bowler emphasised what huge potential he has by taking 10 wickets in England A's victory over Tamil Nadu.
Jones will leave India at the conclusion of the four-day match against South Zone, which finishes today. He will fly back to the United Kingdom and join up with Michael Vaughan's squad - who leave for Jamaica tomorrow - at the end of the week.
The addition of Jones means that England will travel to the West Indies with a bowling attack containing greater firepower than that of their opponents. Jones' presence in a side also containing fellow pace bowlers Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff should give Brian Lara and the West Indies batsmen plenty to think about.
"Simon is now fully recovered from injury and Rod Marsh has been pleased with his progress on the A squad's tour of India," David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, said. "He has worked hard on building up his fitness over the winter and I'm sure that his wicket-taking capabilities will be a real asset to [the England coach] Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan in the Caribbean."
Marsh, the National Academy director who is managing the England A tour, was equally upbeat about Jones' selection.
"He is ready to play Test match cricket," Marsh said. "He wants to bowl fast with the old ball and any team can use a bowler of that nature. I'd like to think he's not only ready but he's going to do very well."
The benefits of Jones' call-up to the squad are twofold. Firstly he will add potency to an attack which looked pretty toothless in Sri Lanka before Christmas. Secondly, his ability to bowl some of the overs normally given to Andrew Flintoff in the middle of an innings could be of equal importance.
England's ability to keep the Lancashire all-rounder fit is crucial since the pitches in the Caribbean should suit Flintoff's bowling, while his rapid run-scoring will give the bowlers more time to take 20 wickets. The damage caused by being overbowled has been a concern for Flintoff, Fletcher and Vaughan for quite some time and he is no use to anyone sitting on the sidelines.
"History suggests that when I bowl too much I get bad groins or some part of my body goes, and that is something I'm going to have to be aware of," Flintoff said. "I've not got a natural bowling action. I'm not like Steve Harmison who can just trundle in and bowl at 95mph. I've got to put a lot of effort in just to get up to any sort of pace, so it's perhaps inevitable that if I bowl a lot of overs I might get injured. It is something I will have to discuss with the coach and the captain."
* Australia's Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds will face charges of dissent today for complaining to the umpire Peter Manuel after Symonds was given out lbw against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Sunday. Manuel reversed the decision after consulting his fellow umpire, Billy Bowden. Sri Lanka won the match by one run to level the five-match series at 1-1.
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- Brian Lara
- Caribbean Islands (west Indies)
- Freddie Flintoff
- Matthew Hoggard
- Michael Vaughan