A winter with Jonathan Trott’s dad proved key as Rob Jones hit an unbeaten 112 in Portsmouth’s eight-wicket win over Portsmouth & Southsea in Southern Electric Premier League division three.
Jones spent the winter with Parnell Cricket Club in Auckland where the England number three batsman’s dad works as a coach.
The 20-year old left-hander believes his experience with the Kiwi side has improved him as a player and he looks set to reap the rewards this summer.
‘I had individual coaching twice a week from him and again on club nights,’ said Jones.
‘He worked on my batting and bowling and I feel I have come back a more confident player.
‘I was always strong off my legs but he got me playing a bit straighter and hitting through the ball more.
‘The whole thing was a fantastic experience and it was the equivalent of playing premier division cricket in the Southern League.’
The youngster used his new-found confidence to help his table-topping Portsmouth side to a good win against their city rivals at St James.
With his team chasing 259 to win, Jones arrived at the crease after the first wicket fell for 33.
And he helped put on a second-wicket partnership of 130 with Matt Shaw (60).
When Shaw departed – bowled by Kieran Dunston – Jones was joined by Farshan Jemildar and together they saw their side comfortably home.
Portsmouth & Southsea had earlier recovered from a sluggish start with Lewis Russell (103) making a superb contribution, including a couple of huge sixes over surrounding trees.
‘That is no mean feat at our ground,’ said Portsmouth & Southsea captain Dave Tiller.
‘We were slow out of the blocks and only had 130 on the board with 15 overs to go.
‘Lewis was then outstanding upping it to 10-an-over for the final eight overs and we did well to get the total we did.’
Tiller felt his side were still in with a chance at that stage but Jones soon dashed those hopes.
Portsmouth captain James Scott regards Jones as an important part of the club’s future as they look to rebuild.
‘I am looking for us to get quick-fire promotions and work our way back towards the premier division,’ said Scott.
‘Rob is an important part of that and, although he is only 20, I feel we can already give him a lot of responsibilty.
‘His innings yesterday was perfectly paced and he knew it was a wicket where once you get in you can score runs.
‘He batted sensibly and didn’t go at it straight away but once he started finding the gaps he was on his way.’
It is very much a family affair with the Jones’s at St Helens – as Rob’s dad Martin has been responsible for the ground in recent years.
And Scott has been delighted by his contribution, too.
‘I think our wicket is now the best it has ever been.’ said the skipper.