Rob Jones relishing Middlesex challenge
Rob Jones says Lancashire are relishing the prospect of a “great challenge” against leaders Middlesex at Emirates Old Trafford, starting tomorrow.
The Red Rose county are searching for their first win since May to alleviate fears of Specsavers County Championship relegation.
Four teams from fifth to eighth in the Division One table are separated by just eight points, with Lancashire five clear of second-bottom Hampshire with two matches left to play.
Durham and Lancashire have two to play, while Hampshire and Warwickshire only have one to play - the latter against Lancashire in the final week at Edgbaston.
Unfortunately, Lancashire are without a win since May after winning three of their first five matches.
But Jones says he and the rest of the dressing room remain in a positive mood ahead of a clash with a Middlesex side who are one point clear of reigning champions Yorkshire having beaten Notts at Trent Bridge on Friday/
“It will be a great challenge for the lads. We’ll give it our best shot like we do in every game,” said the 20-year-old batsman, who has played his first two first-class matches inside the last month
“We’ve played some great cricket at stages this year, and hopefully that can happen against Middlesex.
“We’ve recognised we’re in a fight, which is something we’ve said in the last two team meetings.
“We want to stay in Division One, and that’s the main aim.
“In every game we play, we always look to take a positive step forward and try to win the game. That’s how we go about it.
“A lot of the doubters have said we’d go down because we’ve been up and down over the last few years. But, being around the first team, there’s never been that doubt around the squad.
“We’ve always taken a positive step forward. The environment around the dressing room has been great.”
Jones, who has been described by his coach Ashley Giles as a “Mr Cricket”, has loved his time in the first team against Surrey and Somerset recently.
In the first, a defeat at the Oval, Jones batted at six and scored 25 and 10 before being promoted to open in the most recent rain-affected draw home against Somerset.
In the face of Somerset’s 553-8 declared, Lancashire had their backs to the wall, but Jones hit a patient 34 and helped to take the sting out of the new ball and lay a platform for a reply of 422-9.
“Ash is massive on throwing players in if they’re doing well in the second team. It gives you confidence, and it’s great to have a coach who’s backing you,” he continued
“As well him, there’s also Crofty who backs you. All the lads do to be fair. It’s a great environment to make your debut in
“There’s never been a thought amongst the squad of ‘this guy’s not capable’.
“Ash has been saying to us ‘don’t change what you’ve been doing in the twos, you’re here because you’re playing well. We will back you’.”
Jones, a former England under 19s player, featured heavily in their 2014 World Cup campaign in the UAE.
“The age-group teams I’ve played in have included some really good players, and I feel like I can offer that to Lancashire as well,” he added
“Someone like Ben Duckett has absolutely flown this year.
“Everyone progresses in different ways and at different rates. I don’t feel like I’m too far behind them. It’s just getting opportunities and taking them.”
Jones is heading to Perth this winter for a season of Australian grade cricket with the South Perth club.