Simon Jones: Frankly speaking, this might be my kind of town

On the morning of this First Test, the England team prepared for their final practice to the strains of Frank Sinatra. He will have been played in a million different settings over the years for a million different occasions but Ol' Blue Eyes probably never expected that he would get an airing in a cricket dressing room in South Africa.

Mark Butcher sang along, a few of us ribbed Graham Thorpe for the choice of music. But it signified that we were relaxed for what was ahead. The first morning of the series, especially overseas, is always a special time. This is what you've been waiting for since the squad was picked, what you've been working towards. Like Christmas, it's suddenly here.

After Sinatra had strutted his stuff on our arrival at St George's Park he was then turned off as the start drew nearer. Frank might have been prepared to fly us to the moon but we had business closer to hand. The boys became much more introverted. The banter was much more subdued. We lost the toss, continuing, at the risk of getting on the wrong side of Michael Vaughan by pointing it out, the captain's poor run of form with the coin since taking the job.

Of course, you want to win the toss in a Test, put a large total on the board and then bowl out the opposition twice without the need to bat again. But as a bowler I go to the ground on the morning of the match expecting to bowl. There is no point doing otherwise and when the captain signalled that we were fielding there was no sense of disappointment. You just get on with it.

Not that this looked likely to happen - getting on with it, that is - after my first brief spell. The captain took me off after those three overs went for 14 runs. My rhythm had felt good but something was going wrong in the delivery stride. The move was obviously inspired because Stephen Harmison was brought back and bowled Jacques Kallis. It was a low full toss but anything travelling at 92mph is potential trouble.

I was out in the country for a while but in the afternoon the skipper turned to me again, and this time I don't think I let him or the team down. This time, I felt like a Test bowler. I've had my moments since I came back after the knee injury that kept me out for so long - five wickets in Trinidad, a good, controlled spell against New Zealand at Lord's when I achieved consistent reverse swing - but this was the best I have felt.

I observed last week that in practice I was as fluent as I had been. Well, this was that practice put into a match. I bowled quick at times as well and there is definitely more to come in the speed department. Look, it wasn't perfect and I didn't get a wicket on the first day but we stopped South Africa getting away.

Apparently, the former Test batsman Geoff Boycott seriously doubted my ability, on Radio Five Live. His opinion should never be less than respected but I think his assessment might be much too hasty. My intention was to do what the team required and I hope Boycs was watching when I removed Boeta Dippenaar with one he had to play just after his century yesterday.

The wind is a factor in this match. I have played Colwyn Bay so I know what coastal breezes can do to bowlers, but I've never experienced anything like this. It came at you from the front and it came at you from the back. Bowling into it not only kept you honest, but made it extremely difficult to get your balance and poise.

I thought both Jacques Rudolph and Dippenaar played well and they made it clear that this series will be tough. Neither side will fold easily, I believe, and it should make for a fascinating few weeks. I didn't think I was going to be part of it and I don't intend to depart easily from the proceedings now.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory