Simon Jones: It's a great feeling to be back, but my heart goes out to Jimmy

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The Independent Online

We've done it again, Jimmy Anderson and me. We can't seem to stop doing it and if it can't keep going on like this, it is showing no sign of stopping. Exchanging places in the side, that is.

We've done it again, Jimmy Anderson and me. We can't seem to stop doing it and if it can't keep going on like this, it is showing no sign of stopping. Exchanging places in the side, that is.

It seems that while we might be different types of fast bowler we are going for one place in the England team. What makes it so hard is that he is my best friend in the side. Last winter and for the early part of last summer, I had it, but then Jimmy took over.

At the start of this tour, when I did not truly expect to start the series, Jimmy was left out and I played. Then, for the Test at the Wanderers - and what a memorable, stupendous match it turned out to be - Jimmy came in. My back spasm made me exceedingly doubtful, but I suspect that it merely made the decision of the selectors easier.

Now, it has changed again. Jimmy was left out of the team for the final Test and I was back. When play started at last yesterday our star performer was, of course, the utterly magnificent Freddie Flintoff. If I was the second fiddle, I was pleased with my three wickets. I feel that I am getting better by the match, and it was important for me to take first-innings wickets.

It is a great feeling to be back in the side, but my heart goes out to Jimmy. As it did in the last Test, when he just could not get into any sort of bowling rhythm and the ball was not coming out consistently. That showed how difficult it is to come back after not bowling in a match for so long - and to try to do it in a Test at that. At Lord's last year, I hadn't bowled for long enough and it showed. The ball wouldn't go where I wanted it to. Jimmy had been going great guns in the nets, finding sustained away-swing, but there are so many more things that can go wrong out in the middle.

He has still got the one-day series to look forward to, and I hope he doesn't go into it with his confidence low. Jimmy and I always support each other and as he's only 22 I can confidently predict that he will have a successful international career. He has it in him to be a great bowler for England.

When he is having his good times, he will be able to reflect on the match at the Wanderers last week as no more than a blip. He will also be able to reflect that he took part in one of the great games of cricket. I watched one of the great games of cricket.

It was a magnificent effort to win that Test and Matthew Hoggard, taker of 12 wickets, deserves all the praise that has come his way. With Jimmy out of sorts, with Stephen Harmison suffering from a calf strain, with Freddie Flintoff suffering from a sore side, he stepped up to the plate - and how.

The match fluctuated but there were only two likely outcomes on the last day: a draw or a South African win. The Wanderers has a reputation for being one of the most intimidating stadiums in the world for visiting teams and it lived up to it. On Sunday evening when we came off for bad light, one chap in the crowd started squawking and calling England yellow. As Ashley Giles pointed out, he was 38 going on five. There were other instances of rank bad behaviour. Cartons were thrown in the direction of fielders near the boundary and the odd coin came on as well. The South Africans want to win.

Most of the team had two days off after the great victory. I spent most of the time bowling. I went back to the nets at the Wanderers and then up to Centurion. I think that I am better if I am bowling all the time rather than resting. It also gave me a chance to work on a slight amendment to my action. I am loading up a little lower, by my ribcage rather than by my right ear, and I am certain this will help to improve my accuracy. This is my natural style, and I think I had maybe got a little bit lazy with it.

Simon Jones was talking to Stephen Brenkley