One of England’s fastest bowlers of recent times, Simon Jones played a starring role in England’s 2005 Ashes win, but injury kept him out of the final Test and he never played international cricket again.
Australians who saw that 2005 series in England will remember him as a strapping, dangerous fast bowler who looped the ball around at pretty decent pace and scooped up a galaxy of stars for his booty bag. He talks to Inside Cricket about his infamous swing bowl technique.
How did you learn to bowl reverse swing?
In Adelaide at the ECB Academy, I talked to our bowling coach, Troy Cooley, about the kind of bowler I was going to be.
I decided that I should find a way of taking wickets in the middle period, where the game can be won and lost, in my opinion. Wickets are generally flat at Test level and once that ball gets slightly soft, it’s a difficult period of time to bowl.
It took hours of practice. The other fast bowlers would all want the hardest, newest ball they could find. I’d go for the one that looked like it had been chewed by a dog. The reverse swinging ball does so much more than the new ball. I could control it better than the new ball. I knew just how far to start it outside off stump.
I was baffled that the Aussies didn’t pick up on it. Their players later told us that they had team meetings where they’d talk about how to deal with myself and Fred (Andrew Flintoff).
What’s the secret to reverse swing bowling?
Keep the ball as dry as possible and that means anyone with sweaty hands, away from the ball. One side is really smooth, shined on your trousers, no saliva. The other side just roughs up naturally. Throw the ball in on the bounce, making sure the shiny side is on top.
I didn’t change my action or grip. Just held the ball across the seam, smashed it into the deck. Worked best on hard, abrasive surfaces.
Once you get the ball swinging, you have to make sure you have a ball manager, which for us, was Marcus Trescothick. He stood at slip and did most of the shining, threw it to mid-off and straight to the bowler.
Should a quick bowler be aggressive?
You need controlled aggression. If you lose your rag and try as bowl as quickly as you can, isn’t going to work at that level. Keep your cool, don’t get involved and perform your role to the best of your ability.