Amy Jones was cruising. In and about the England team, playing the odd game, carrying drinks mostly, but she was just happy to be there. Then, before the 2017 Women’s World Cup, she was dropped.
The realisation that potential was only going to take her so far was pivotal in moulding Jones into the in-form opener who is now poised to take her country into an Ashes series against Australia, starting with the first of three ODIs on Tuesday in Leicester.
“Getting dropped for that World Cup was huge for me because I kind of expected to be a part of it so when I wasn’t it was a bit of a shock and a bit of a wake-up call,” Jones said.
“I was 24, 25 and as a youngster, I always had people telling me how much potential I had and I think when you get told that from such a young age you just kind of expect it to happen. You’re like, ‘oh well, surely I’m going to get a game and I’m going to score runs and it’s just going to snowball from there.’
“But it just didn’t really at that point and missing out on the World Cup at home it was really gutting.”
Interestingly, it was via Australia that that realisation came. During a successful stint with Perth-based WNCL side Western Fury, Jones “just worked it out for myself” with the help of her coaches there and a fresh environment. She has since returned to Western Australia to play for Perth Scorchers in the 2018-19 WBBL season.
“That was the moment when I realised I could do it and that it wasn’t just potential” Amy Jones
The stop-start nature of Jones’ early career was not all down to her. Being a wicketkeeper she had to play second fiddle to the brilliant Sarah Taylor. But when Taylor took time off in early 2018 to deal with anxiety issues that had sidelined her two years earlier, Jones broke back into the England side. Touring India, Jones took the gloves but also had the chance to showcase her batting at No.3 in a three-match ODI series.
“In the first two I got ducks so going into the last one I was like ‘oh Christ,'” Jones said. “This was my first opportunity back and I’d got two ducks so it was a very scary moment and I had a lot of doubts at that point. But I’d say it was that third ODI that was the big turning point for me.
“I got 94 and that’s my highest score and I think that’s just the moment when I knew. That was the moment when I realised I could do it and that it wasn’t just potential. I actually had the ability to go out and score big runs, and under a lot of pressure at that point as well.”
Promoted to opener for the subsequent home series against South Africa and New Zealand, Jones has held her place as a batsman ever since while Taylor has also made a comeback as first-choice keeper. In that time, Jones has formed a formidable opening partnership with Tammy Beaumont.
“As a youngster I always opened and it was more in the past almost trying to reinvent myself in different positions to try and get a game because that spot was never really open,” Jones said. “Having been able to nail that down now is where I’m comfortable batting so it’s brilliant that I can just go out and do what’s natural to me and that I’ve taken the opportunity really.”
Jones is the more “chilled” character yet she is the more expressive batsman. She likes to score runs quickly and is not afraid to go for the boundary early. Bubbly fellow right-hander Beaumont oozes class and is generally prepared to dig in for the long haul.
“I love batting with Tam, she’s good fun and we’ve had quite a lot of success recently together with some good opening partnerships and I think we complement each other pretty well,” Jones said.
Beaumont agreed: “She’s good to bat with because she always scores quickly so it takes the pressure off me and it’s exciting to play with someone who complements my game. We hit the ball in different areas, she’s a lot taller than me and we hopefully make it quite difficult for the opening bowlers to bowl at us as a partnership.”
Beaumont posted scores of 32, 61 and 46 in the recent one-day series with West Indies, while Jones twice threatened to overhaul her career best with 91, 18 and 80. Jones seems to be withstanding the inevitable pressure to convert 80s and 90s to a maiden century but she admitted to do it in an Ashes series “would be incredible”.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo