Simon Jones: A word for the captain - I want to bowl more
Sunday 09 January 2005
The sign of a good team is how they come back. In the next few days we will find out if England are as good as we thought we were. Losing at Cape Town to make the series 1-1 when we could so easily have gone into it at 2-0 was unexpected and bitterly disappointing.
Maybe the draw in Durban affected us more than we could have anticipated. There, we had played like dogs for a day and a half and then staged such a comeback that we got ourselves into a position to win. Bad light denied us - we will go to our graves believing that - and we were drained as a result to an extent we could not have realised.
To have lost the toss at Newlands was something we could have done without, but you can't judge cricket matches on winning and losing the toss. For one reason or another we didn't make enough runs in the first innings.
It would be ridiculous to start calling England a bad team on the grounds of one match. Knee-jerk reactions won't help. We're not a bad team, or an indifferent team, we're a good side who have had one bad game. South Africa know that, and you can forget all this talk about the momentum slipping away.
No doubt Duncan Fletcher will have a stern point or two to make. We're prepared for it. He has let us rest for a couple of days, get over the cramming of so much cricket into so short a time, but we know he will be letting us know where we went wrong.
From a personal point of view, Geoff Boycott has already been on my case - again - telling listeners to BBC Radio he doesn't think much of me. He is entitled to his opinion, but there comes a point in an expert's life when he starts saying things for effect. I am satisfied with the way I have bowled by and large; not fully satisfied by a long chalk, but there have been enough good spells to make me think that I have done a share.
There is work to do, I have to become more consistent. The odd indifferent stint here and there has not helped, but I'm beginning to think I'm being judged by Mr Geoffrey Perfect. This can get wearing considering that Boycs was such a controversial team-mate in his days as a formidable player. My dad, Jeff, shared a room with him on tour because nobody else on the team was keen to do so.
Some critics have pointed out that I'm not doing enough bowling as part of the four-man seam attack and, believe me, I want to do more. I certainly don't feel that on the field is the time or place to mention it to Michael Vaughan, but I hope to have a word with him in the next couple of days. Partly for reassurance, partly to let him know I want to bowl and that I can do a job. There's no fall-out here, but bowling is what I do, I am ready to do it and I think I want to make it clear.
One person I shall miss is Troy Cooley, the fast-bowling coach, who goes home tomorrow to attend to his duties with the National Academy. I don't know who makes these decisions, but I do know he's the best coach I've ever had and I wish he could be here for the last two crucial matches.
The side are not downbeat. Actually, we have remained quite the reverse, not complacent but still sure of our ability. Look, you don't win eight times in a row by being useless. There are things we can do and we'll be doing them.
But it was equally important to have a little break from the tribulations of cricket, and four of us went shark-watching on Friday. This entailed going a mile out to sea and waiting for great white sharks to come our way. To encourage them, a tuna was thrown overboard. Four of the players went and three of them, Geraint Jones, Chris Read and Gareth Batty, went into the cage which was submerged overboard to get a better view. So did my girlfriend, Kim, who was shocked when a shark nuzzled through the cage and got to within 18 inches of her. No real danger, I'm told, though I'm afraid I had chickened out. I don't like water that much.
We returned intact, though three of the media guys spent much of the time being sick over the side of the boat in the rough seas. It couldn't get rid of the memory of our performance in the Third Test, but it cleared the mind all right.
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