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'We are up to the challenge'

England's fast bowler Simon Jones is all set to bowl to the best batting line-up in the world, reports G Krishnan.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 15:24 IST
G Krishnan

Frequent injuries have interrupted England fast bowler Simon Jones' career since he made his debut against India at Lord's in 2002.

But nothing could stop him from being voted as the highest-placed sportsman among the world's sexiest men for February 2006 -- at ninth -- in a poll by the readers of New Woman magazine in the United Kingdom.

Jones and his fast-bowling colleagues are gearing up for the testing conditions of bowling to the Indian batsmen in the three Tests next month.

England's best exponent of reverse swing, Simon Jones told reporters: "You have to work hard for your wickets. We are going to work hard against the best batting line-up in the world. We are up to the challenge. We have got some of the best bowling guys in the world. It should be quite challenging."

Jones practiced the reverse swing effectively while scalping 18 sticks in four Tests during England's success ful campaign against Australia last year. He had to withdraw from the final Test at The Oval following an anklebone spur problem.

The right-armer said his group of fast bowlers were happy with the SG balls and said that there was no pressure on him to practice re verse swing in India.

"The SG balls swung really good here. The boys have been happy. Reverse swing will come into effect in a Test match, which is for a longer duration and obviously with more batting and bowling on the wicket."

The injury kept him out of the Pakistan tour last yearend and he has recovered fully to be selected for the gruelling tour of India.

The 27-year-old Glamorgan speedster spent 10 days at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai last month, getting used to the humid conditions besides the SG Test balls.

"The idea to come here last month was to cope up with the heat. I have been indoors all winter in Loughborough. To bowl outdoors is totally different. To come to India where it is 35 degrees Celsius, it's minus-two back home, there's a big difference. The sooner you gauge, the better. It is hot going to get hotter. The more time we spend in the field is better for us."

Playing his first match in six months against the CCI President's XI here, Jones bowled at half-pace and with a slower run-up. He even tested his ankle soon after the match by bowling for about half-an hour at the nets.

"I took a little bit easier on Sunday. I bowled off my long run on Monday and am happy with the way things went. The ankle is feeling good," he said.

Jones, who first came to India in 2004 with England 'A', said the fast bowlers would not be under pressure to perform de spite the inexperience of their spin bowling.

"The spinners have bowled well in this game. We have this young Monty (Panesar) come into the side. Ian Blackwell bowled well. The boys are going to be up in confidence as the wickets will be flatter than this one. That's where the spinners will come into the game and be up to the challenge," said Jones, who has 59 sticks from 18 Tests.

Sharing the new ball or bowling with the old, Jones doesn't mind any thing.

"To be fair, Hoggy (Matthew Hoggard) and Harmy (Stephen Harmison) have done a very good job opening the attack in the last few years. I don't see any reason to change that combination.

"Me coming at first or second change has worked well for us in the Ashes. It doesn't really bother me. I like bowling with the new ball, I like bowling with the old ball too. I'll do what the skipper tells me."

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 15:24 IST