Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: I Will Be Right at Home - Jones; Wicketkeeper Confident as the First Ashes Test Nears

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: I Will Be Right at Home - Jones; Wicketkeeper Confident as the First Ashes Test Nears

Article excerpt

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

GERAINT Jones is counting down the days before he walks out for the opening Ashes Test at the ground where he first developed his interest in becoming a professional cricketer.

England's 30-year-old wicketkeeper was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to Brisbane aged 16 and spent many hours watching cricket at The Gabba, which will host the opening exchange of the Ashes series starting later this week.

He can expect a hostile reception from a capacity crowd who believe he betrayed Australia by leaving to make his career in England, but he will also have friends and family supporting him in the stands.

Their presence makes his comeback all the more satisfying after being preferred to Chris Read behind the stumps for the start of the series despite being dropped midway through last summer.

"It's very special playing a Test here," admitted Jones. "I spent a bit of time there growing up and I've got family there.

"Playing a Test there was something I wanted to do right from the last Ashes series. I wanted to be part of that Test. I wasn't quite sure I'd be there when I was left out, but it's going to be fantastic, not only because of the occasion but also to have family and friends in the crowd."

Jones was regarded as an outsider to regain his place at the start of the tour after averaging just 18.15, including just two half-centuries, in the 21 Test innings since scoring a crucial 85 in the first innings of the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge last year.

Read came in for the final two Tests of last summer and averaged 42 and looked impressive with the gloves. However, an unhappy Champions Trophy tournament cost him his place with coach Duncan Fletcher signalling his intention to recall Jones shortly after England's arrival in Australia.

"I'm a little bit surprised. I came away with Chris having the gloves at the end of the summer so I thought the first two weeks would be crucial," said Jones. "I was hoping I could push my point strongly enough to be included in the first Test. The early timing of finding out was good for me. I feel for Chris in that regard but it gave me a chance to get my head around it. …

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