'I apparently peed in the garden at 10 Downing Street'

Former England fast bowler Simon Jones on 2005, injury, and naked photo shoots

Interview by Jack Wilson |

"I won't look back at footage of the injury in Brisbane. But I will keep watching the reverse-swinging ball I bowled to Michael Clarke" © Getty Images

I've never seen a man so drunk as Fred [Andrew Flintoff] on our 2005 Ashes victory parade. Fair play to him, he was in a hell of a tangle. The way we got absolutely obliterated and then had to go to 10 Downing Street the next day wasn't ideal. The 12 drunkest people in England had to go to the most important place in London. We all looked like we slept in a bush.

Sachin Tendulkar could have been my first wicket. No, he should have been my first wicket. He nicked to first slip on my debut but Thorpey [Graham Thorpe] dropped it. He had a couple of issues at home and I know no one means to drop them, but I was absolutely gutted. What a first wicket that would have been.

I went from penthouse to doghouse after the 2005 Ashes. The lads kicked on and I was sat on the sidelines injured. It hurt. I felt I could be one of the top five bowlers in the world. It wasn't meant to be.

I've done naked photo shoots, and people say: "Look, what's he doing!" But they were for good causes and it raised a lot of awareness and money. I felt uncomfortable when I did them. There were 30-odd people in the room and they were all looking at me - it was a bit awkward. Oh, and the room wasn't very warm either!

Watching the final Ashes Test in 2005 was hard work. I'd done all I could with our physio Kirk Russell to get fit but I was never going to make it. To see the lads out there grafting and not being able to do anything was tough.

"Lara actually said he was glad I didn't take the new ball, which was nice. He must have rated me a bit"

Winning the Wisden Cricketer of Year award was a great achievement. It capped off a huge summer. My mum and dad were there and it's something I can show to my boys when they're older.

I've seen footage of my dad bowling. He was quick, with a classic side-on action and sent it through at good pace. His best figures were 6 for 118 against Australia, which is some effort.

The last knee injury has been the most frustrating, painful, mind-boggling one I've ever had. I can only describe the feeling as like being stabbed in the knee. The last four or five years have been the most stressful and testing for me.

I started so well on the on 2002-03 Ashes tour. I was bowling at real good pace, I'd started picking up wickets and I was making a name for myself. I got Justin Langer during the first session at Brisbane and that was massive for me. I felt pretty good about life in the afternoon when I went to chase after a ball at mid-on. And then it happened - my knee got stuck in the ground and that was that. It could have cost me my career.

With the amount of money flying around in cricket, sometimes people can get distracted about why they play because of what's on offer. They should always remember why they play.

"The 12 drunkest people in England had to go to the most important place in London" © Getty Images

I will keep watching the reverse-swinging ball I bowled to Michael Clarke at Old Trafford in '05. It was so gratifying to get a player of his class out, especially in the manner I did. I set him up, bowled four awayswingers, then got him shouldering arms with the inswinger and knocked back his stumps.

There was a lad called Alun Evans who used to play for Glamorgan. He was a good batsman but he was as deaf as a post. The lads used to get stuck into him because he kept running people out, people like Steve James and Hugh Morris, who can go and get big runs. The club bought a hearing aid for him because of it, which cost £1800. One day Wayne Law was driving to a game and Alun got a bit self-aware and put his hearing aid on the dashboard. It was hot, the windows were down and as the car sped round a corner, the hearing aid ran across the dash, fell out the window and was never to be seen again. We get to the game and what happens? He runs Hugh Morris out!

When my dad played for England they bowled eight-ball overs. That can't have been much fun, I don't fancy that one bit. It's never going to be good if you send down a couple of wides too.

I apparently peed in the garden at 10 Downing Street. That's what they tell me. Did I do it? It could have been me - but I can't remember. Harmy [Steve Harmison] was playing on the swing and Hoggy [Matthew Hoggard] was climbing a kids' climbing frame. It was hilarious.

Michael Vaughan was a brilliant captain to play under. He didn't get flustered and just wanted you to express and enjoy yourself. He'd have a laugh and make you feel totally at ease. He knew how I and everyone worked. That was his big strength. The way he guided the ship in that Ashes was unbelievable.

"I felt uncomfortable when I did the naked photo shoots. There were 30-odd people in the room and they were all looking at me. Oh, and the room wasn't very warm either!"

Most of the England boys had wives and families during the Ashes. Not me and Kev [Pietersen]. We joined forces and spent a lot of time together. We used to go out for dinner and have a few quiet beers every now and then, where often we'd see the Aussies. We'd sit with them and have some healthy banter. He's a good mate.

There's one thing that annoyed me about that injury [Brisbane, 2002]. The Aussies refused to slide on the ground and no one told us. They should have. We played at the Allan Border Field in a warm-up game before that and it was like an ice rink. You could slide for ages. I was a young lad and thought every ground was like that. It was a big mistake.

The best thing about the 2005 series was the way it gripped a nation. People were coming up to me in the street and saying, "Well done, keep it going", and it was so special to experience it. At the same time, it was scary how much these people wanted us to bring back the urn. There was a lot of pressure.

There were no hidden agendas in that team. We all played with want and desire to play well. For the first time in a long time we looked like we could stand up to the Aussies. We respected them massively but we weren't scared of them. We weren't going to be bullied.

I caught up with Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting when the boys toured Australia in 2013 and lost 5-0, the poor sods. They told me they used to have nightmares about me and Fred. That was a huge thing for me to hear, although I can't work out why they found it hard against me. Maybe it's because I've got a really quick arm and there's a massive explosion at the crease.

Hoggy was hilarious. He used to leave answerphone messages of him bleating like a sheep, because of my Welsh connection. One was two minutes long and I sat and wasted my time listening to it. He was always up to mischief.

"Harmy and Jason Gillespie were carrying me off [in Brisbane] and I had a can of lager thrown at me" © Getty Images

I got a fair amount of stick when I was the highest-placed sportsman in New Woman's World's Sexiest Man poll in 2006. Fred was happy he made the top 100. He nailed poor Harmy for not getting in it!

Matthew Hayden called me Mr Muscle once during an Ashes Test. I said, "That's rich, coming from you." I asked him how long it took for him to pump his chest up. I used to call him Buzz, like Buzz Lightyear.

The day I got my MBE was amazing, especially with my mum and dad there. Standing there with the lads in Buckingham Palace was the proudest moment of my life and one of those things you never think you'll experience. It was a special, special day. To be sober at the time was even better!

I was lying on the ground in Brisbane in agony. One guy in the crowd thought it was his big chance to have a crack. He shouted at me and called me "a weak Pommie bastard" as I was stretchered off. It was his big chance to have a go. Harmy and Jason Gillespie were carrying me off and I had a can of lager thrown at me. That nearly tipped me over the edge. Harmy nearly dropped me because he wanted to have a go at the guy.

My beans were going on my Test debut when I walked out to bat. Craig White told me to do what I do, and that basically meant that I wouldn't be blocking many. I pushed a few back but if it was in my strike zone I was going to have a go. It was a flat track and my hitting just came off. I ended up making 44 off 43 balls. Matthew Maynard had always tried to encourage me to play positively and that's what I did.

"I got a fair amount of stick when I was the highest-placed sportsman in New Woman's World's Sexiest Man poll in 2006. Fred made the top 100 and nailed poor Harmy for not getting in"

I possibly think I should have called it a day after 2006. The last five years have been hell. At the end of the day, I didn't want to be 40 thinking what if? I could have taken an insurance payoff but that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to be back on the field playing the game I love.

Playing football is dangerous for cricketers. The pre-match games became feisty, there were scraps, and it was never too much fun. So I went in goal. I bottled it. I wanted an easier life. There would be divisions in teams for a couple of days because of what happened in football matches.

I had spent 18 months out injured and returned in the Caribbean in 2004 to get Brian Lara out. I thought my head was going to explode. I was happy as a bloke could be. A few weeks later he made 400 not out. Harmy actually nicked him off early but the umpire didn't pick up on it. If he'd been given, it would have been the worst series of his life. Fielding to that knock were two and a half of the longest days ever. Lara actually made a comment and said he was glad I didn't take the third new ball which was nice. He must have rated me a bit.

England's plan for reverse swing was simple: keep the ball dry. We didn't want any sweaty hands going near it. Get them away from it! We had a ball manager - Marcus Trescothick - who'd do all the work on the ball. It would go into Geraint Jones' gloves, he'd chuck it to Tres at first slip and then it would be straight to mid-on or mid-off. That's what worked for us.

People ask: "Did Waqar Younis help you with your reverse swing at Glamorgan?" The answer is no. We didn't see each other as I was in the second team at the time. He was a great bowler but he didn't help me with that.

The press used to speak about me as a one-trick pony. Give him the old ball and let him go, they said. That annoyed me. I once went two and a half sessions for England without bowling because I was seen to be better with the old ball. I totally respected Michael Vaughan's view, but I didn't want to be used with the old one. The best time to use it is when it's hard and new. I got five wickets at Trent Bridge and I silenced a few critics there.

"I should have called it a day after 2006. The last five years have been hell" © Getty Images

A lot of lads found Nasser [Hussain] aggressive and in your face. I loved his style. He only captained me for a Test and a half but we get on like a house on fire. He goes out there to make you angry. He'd say, "I can't believe what the batter said about you" and then you'd be pumped up to get him. He knew what got players going.

Having kids changed my whole perspective on life. When you have a bad day at the office, you come home and see the kids and realise cricket isn't that important after all.

In 2008 I was told I had a 20% chance of not playing again. That wasn't nice. I like a challenge and it was a great feeling to prove people wrong.

My first love was football - not cricket. I played up until I was 15 as a centre-forward. I scored 126 goals in one season for my team Dafen. We were thumping teams 37-0 and stuff. I scored 15 in one game once, and no, it wasn't against the blind school.

A word for Troy Cooley and Rod Marsh. These two are up there with anyone I've ever worked with. The way they motivate you, inspire you and keep you going, they are brilliant. I owe these two a lot.

"In 2008 I was told I had a 20% chance of not playing again. I like a challenge and it was a great feeling to prove people wrong"

Some overseas players come in and take the cash in county cricket, but not Michael Kasprowicz. He was an absolute legend of the game who - and I know this is a cliché - wore his heart on his sleeve. He really got into the Glamorgan spirit and helped the youngsters out so much. He was good on a night out too and he had plenty of good banter. He could have coasted through, distanced himself from some of the younger lads and just worried about himself. He didn't.

I played all sorts of sports as a kid: football, cricket, rugby, and I was handy at athletics. That's what kids should be doing. They should find what they love and never be pressured down any avenue. Some parents want their kids to play football because of all the money. It's just not right.

All the lads seemed to get the keys to their own areas after the Ashes. Not me. I didn't get the keys to Cardiff, although I did get an honorary degree. That confused my Auntie Verna. I had to explain I couldn't use it.

I'm in the second part of my life now. I'm 36 and I've just started a new job, working for a finance company. I'll miss the games, and putting myself up against other cricketers, but I won't miss the day-to-day training. I pulled the plug at the right time mentally and physically. I needed a new challenge and I feel I've got a lot left to give.

The moment you wake up every day and don't look forward to training, that's when you should quit. If training is a chore, take a long hard look in the mirror and call it a day.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Comments