Worcestershire fast bowler Richard Jones talks to Chris Airey about the club’s County Championship survival last season and looks forward to the 2012 campaign, with Australian opener Phillip Hughes added to the Royals’ ranks.
You avoided relegation from Division One of the County Championship last season against all the odds. Did that represent a good campaign?
If you look at the end of season results you would probably say it was a good season for us. We stayed in Division One and were odds-on favourites to go down. Last game of the season we defied the odds and proved a few people wrong and staying in Division One was a massive bonus for us. It was our aim at the start of the season to stay up and we managed to do that on the last day. It was euphoric really.
And how did you feel the season went for you personally?
I think I started off well in pre-season but when the first game came around I was left out and I was obviously disappointed – everyone wants to play the first game. I tried to get my head down but it didn’t really click for me in the first half of the season. Then I had one good performance and I felt like I turned a bit of a corner. I got myself back into the first team and felt I contributed well in the games I played. I finished quite well and hopefully I can take that form with me into next season.
Were you disappointed not to feature more in 2011?
Yeah, I definitely wish I’d played more games last year. I only played five or six games in the County Championship and I didn’t play any Twenty20s after playing a few the year before. I only played a few one-dayers as well and it is an area of my game that I’m looking to improve so I can contribute more to the club.
What are the club’s aims for 2012?
Our aim again will be to stay up but I think we are a progressive club with a young side and we want to improve year by year. I think our aim will be to finish higher than seventh but if we can retain our Division One status it will be a good year. I genuinely think we have a good chance of qualifying from the group stage in the Twenty20 competition. We started off really well last year and were able to put some good performances together. I don’t think there is any reason why we can’t make it to Finals Day. That is something Worcestershire have never done and we hope to do that next season.
Which players should we look out for at New Road next season?
I would like to say myself. It is a big year for me, I’m in my last year of my contract and I can actually see myself playing a very important role. I know it will be as a back-up bowler or support bowler to Alan Richardson, who has obviously done phenomenally well for us over the last few years. We’ve also recently signed David Lucas from Northants who is a seasoned professional and everyone knows he will do well and Gareth Andrew had a massive year for us last year as well. If I can contribute the way I know I can, as a strike bowler, and take wickets and help those guys I am pretty sure I can have a good year.
With the bat, I think Moeen Ali will have another good year for us. He is improving year by year and is looking like a real talent. I think he is one of those guys who can go on and play international cricket. Alexei Kervezee would probably have liked to have done better last season really but he showed signs of utter brilliance – the innings he played at Nottingham when he got that hundred was phenomenal. On the batting front I think those players will be crucial.
What impact will the signing of Australian opener Philip Hughes have on the team?
I don’t know much about him but Ben Scott and Alan Richardson played with him at Middlesex and say he is a great bloke. He is still a young guy but when he was at Middlesex he was unbelievable and hopefully he can come here and find that kind of form. He hasn’t done too well in the recent series against New Zealand so I am guessing he will want to come here and prove some people wrong. Hopefully he can come here and help us out – it will be another international player that I can say I have played with and it will be an honour. I can’t wait.
Click here to read more from Chris Airey at Boundary Magazine.