Simon Jones: Lee shows me the way back - pace, pace and more pace
I can't get up to the higher 90s, but I know there is enough left in me to reach regularly above 90mph. That is my aim
Sunday 16 January 2005
I watched Brett Lee bowl two days ago. He bowled like the wind whistling off Brecon Beacons on a late autumn day. In no time he had three for spit, and if he was always in the batsmen's faces he was in their souls just as often.
He was delivering the ball at more than 90mph and he was having the time of his life. This is the chance that he had been waiting for all the Australian summer, while he was sitting on the bench as the Test team were winning without him. That's what I want to bowl like, fast and furious and getting men out.
I don't want to be Brett Lee, I want to be Simon Jones, and watching him perform at such high throttle helped me to realise what I have been missing for England. It has frustrated me, it still frustrates me, that when I have bowled for Glamorgan I have bowled at truly fast speeds and I have not done that regularly for England.
The answer to why that is so would provide the solution to my problems. I think it might be to do with not having a long run in the side, not quite nailing down a place and therefore not performing with freedom. I know that there is more to come in terms of my speed, but just once, in Durban, on this tour did the ball start coming out at pace. Then everything gelled - mind, run-up, delivery stride, release - and I could feel the energy surge through me. I have got to be a fast bowler, it is what got me noticed, it is what I was brought into the England side for.
Of course I am desperately disappointed not to be in the team for this Test match. As it happens I had a back spasm on the eve of the match and probably would not have been fit, but I think I know deep down they would have included my friend Jimmy Anderson in any case. I want to play, but I hope he does well and that England win. That is the goal, that is more important than me not playing.
There are things to work on now. I'm looking at my run-up again and may have a go at increasing my speed into the crease. Lee is an exciting bowler who makes things happen, as is Shoaib Akhtar. They are exciting, though Lee is my favourite. I can't get up to the higher 90s but I know there is enough left in me to reach regularly above 90. That is my aim.
I can only keep my mind on the job here. There is one match to go and you never know what can happen in this game. I'm not in the team now, but that could change for all sorts of reasons - injury, bad form - and while I wouldn"t wish them on any of my friends I have to make sure that I am prepared.
No column would be complete without a mention of Andrew Strauss. Another day, another century. Five in 11 Test matches now. What I admire most about him is his temperament. He doesn't get ruffled if he gets 60 in a day or 100, he plays it on its merits. And the captain got runs, too. As I'm 12th man I'm watching every ball, and I can report that Michael Vaughan deserved them. He grafted and then played shots.
This series still has life because it has turned this way and that. South Africa are tough opponents, but that is what we want and need. Duncan Fletcher, our coach, told me I had done pretty well, but I know I could have done better at certain moments. There is next week in Centurion but there is also Lord's in July, the First Test against Australia. It'd be good to be there and bowling fast.
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