Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Jones pleading for another Irish chance

Ireland get their first chance to get used to the pitch at the Providence Stadium in Guyana, the home of their two group games in the World Twenty20, when they face New Zealand tonight in an official ICC warm-up game.

Although National coach Phil Simmons never reveals his line-up until the players get into the huddle in their warm-up around a hour before the start, two members of the squad will be keener than most to get a run-out tonight.

For Peter Connell playing against the country of his birth has, to date, been the stuff of nightmares.

In an ODI in 2008 he conceded 48 runs in his last two overs to finish with figures of 0-95 and in last year’s World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge, he again opened the bowling, was hit for 14 in his first over and was not seen again. He is desperate to make amends.

In Nigel Jones’ case, he just wants to play against anyone.

There are always one or two players in a 15-man squad who find themselves on the periphery and the Civil Service North captain finds himself on the outside looking in, having played in only one of the last four games and in that match he was out for a second ball duck and didn’t bowl.

The Kiwi-born all-rounder admits he is running out of time if he wants to play against the West Indies in Ireland’s tournament opener on Friday.

“From a personal point of view, I see myself as a top order batsman who bowls a bit but in the Ireland team I’m a guy who bowls a bit more and bats down the order,” he said.

“Apart from the top three and a couple of the bowlers, no-one has a role as such.

“I have batted everywhere from four to nine and that is the nature of Twenty20 cricket, you need guys who nudge the ball and guys who look to clear the rope.

“I feel I can fit into both categories but probably didn’t help myself in my last game.

“It was a bad day for everyone (the first match against Trinidad when Ireland were bowled out for 90) but not the greatest shot from me personally. If you come out and hit a six, people are asking what’s going to happen here.

“When I came in, I think we were 70 with only eight (overs) left and we knew we had to double our score to give us any chance. You have to take your opportunity and you have to realise there are days when it won’t happen.”

And with Jones an absentee in the superb comeback win against the Twenty20 Champions League runners-up, the 28 year old admits he is pessimistic about starting tonight.

“After such a good win on Friday, a complete role reversal, it will be hard for Simmo to change the team,” said Jones.

“All the bowlers bowled well and that’s the luxury in our squad.

“There is so much variety with the ball that you have to put your hand up, otherwise you are probably going to have to sit it out which is the way it should be at this level.”

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