Alan Jones: Glamorgan batsman awarded England honour 50 years on

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Alan Jones 'absolutely delighted' by England cap

Former Glamorgan batsman Alan Jones says he is "delighted" after being given an England cap - 50 years after his only international appearance.

Jones, 81, has been recognised as an England player after batting against the Rest of the World in 1970, a match later stripped of Test status.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has awarded Jones a Test cap and his own number.

"I am very surprised and never thought it would happen," said Jones.

Ex-Glamorgan and England batsman Steve James had called it "one of cricket's great injustices" - which the ECB is now hoping to put right.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has refused to grant the 1970 five-match series Test status, so Jones was denied the chance to say he is an England player. Until now.

Jones was surprised at his Swansea home with a special virtual video conference presentation that featured current England Test captain Joe Root and ECB chairman Colin Graves.

Jones has been given the number 696 and becomes the 17th Glamorgan player to be included in the illustrious England list.

The presentation was officially made by Jones' old Glamorgan team-mate and ex-England captain Tony Lewis.

"I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen," Jones added.

"I never expected it now because 50 years is a long time."

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Alan Jones: Glowing tributes paid to Glamorgan and now England batsman

The summer of 1970

1970 was a unique summer in English cricket. The scheduled tour by South Africa was cancelled by the UK Government after pressure from anti-apartheid demonstrators.

The tourists were replaced by a glittering Rest of the World XI featuring stars from West Indies, Pakistan, India, Australia and also South Africa.

The five matches were initially billed as Tests with tickets sold as such, and it was reported that World XI captain and West Indies all-rounder Garry Sobers only took part based on that premise.

Jones was selected to open for England in the opening match at Lord's and strode out to bat on 17 June 1970. Jones fell to South Africa seamer Mike Procter for five and nought, caught in both innings by India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.

Jones was replaced by John Edrich for the second game and never played for England again.

Alan Jones (right) and Brian Luckhurst walk out to open for England against the Rest of the World at Lord's in 1970
Alan Jones (right) and Brian Luckhurst opened for England against the Rest of the World at Lord's in 1970

At least he thought he was an official Test player. After all he was handed a cap, sweater and blazer, just like any other player making his England debut.

Yet in 1972, the ICC ruled the series did not have Test status, arguing that it had never confirmed the series' status in the first place. Jones was never officially told and found about it from reading a newspaper article.

"I was disappointed when it happened. I was very proud to play for England but to have the cap taken away was disappointing and not being able to say I had played a Test match for England," said Jones.

"All that has happened today makes me very proud."

For the record, the Rest of the World won the series 4-1.

How good was Alan Jones?

Extremely. Jones joined the Glamorgan staff in 1955 and by the time he retired in 1983, he had scored 36,049 first-class runs in 645 matches following stints with Natal, Northern Transvaal and Western Australia.

No-one in history had scored more runs without winning an official Test cap. The left-hander compiled over 1,000 runs in every season from 1961 to 1983, and recorded 52 first-class centuries for Glamorgan.

Jones helped Glamorgan win the County Championship title in 1969, captained the side in the 1977 Gillette Cup final against Middlesex at Lord's and was awarded an MBE for his services to Welsh cricket.

Alan Jones shows off his England cap
A picture 50 years in the making - Alan Jones shows off his England cap

He took over as Glamorgan coach after his final Championship game in 1983 and was director of coaching until retiring in 1998.

Jones was a mentor for many of Glamorgan's next generation of England cricketers including Steve James, Robert Croft, Matthew Maynard, Steve Watkin and Simon Jones.

He became Glamorgan president in March 2016 and held that role for three years.

What they said

Joe Root, England Test cap 655: "Hearing and reading about Alan's achievements in cricket has been inspiring, so it's a great honour to have been part of his celebration.

"Being selected to represent your country is a huge moment in any cricketer's career, and while Alan's time in the team was brief, I hope he has retained fond memories of the match over the last 50 years.

"The cap makes you part of a very special family and I hope it's not too long before we can welcome Alan to an England match to congratulate him in person."

Alan Jones with the England cap and sweater he received while playing for England against the Rest of the World in 1970
Alan Jones with the original cap and sweater he received while playing for England against the Rest of the World in 1970

Simon Jones (no relation), England Test cap 610: "I was lucky enough to have my dad [Jeff] play for England, but he always told me how good Alan was as a player and all the runs he scored backed that up.

"When I was playing what I also found with Alan is what a great human being he was to be around when we were in nets or training. He was my second team coach and he almost became a father figure to the young lads and my path going from schoolboy to professional cricket was made a lot easier by Alan."

Steve James, England Test cap 589: "I always thought it was one of cricket's great injustices. I have had two England Test caps and Alan has had none and that has embarrassed me over the years. He is Glamorgan's greatest ever batsman. He is also so much more than that.

"As soon as I joined the Glamorgan staff in 1985 Alan was the coach I gravitated to as an opening batsman.

"When I was a Swansea University student I spent hours with him at indoor nets in Neath. He was a brilliant coach and a great man who is so easy to talk to."

Robert Croft, England Test cap 582: "He thoroughly deserves this accolade. I did not see a lot of Alan play but his name was always mentioned alongside the likes of Tony Lewis and Don Shepherd and people like that. Those names will always go down in Welsh cricket history.

"Alan was one of the consistent figures throughout my career. He took me under his wing as a youngster and got me in the system. He has never changed and has always been true to himself and values as a professional cricketer."

Hugh Morris, England Test cap 552: "For more than 60 years, Alan has been a player, captain, coach, and president of a club that has been close to his heart, and a mentor and hero to its players past and present. He has had a profound impact on cricket at all levels throughout Wales and everyone will celebrate with Alan and his family in receiving a recognition he so richly deserves.

"He had an amazing career and was a hero to me and many others. He is one of the nicest men you will ever meet and one of the finest players of his generation. To achieve what he did on uncovered pitches against some of the most fearsome bowlers was a remarkable effort."

Former Glamorgan players Alan Wilkins, Alan Jones and Tony Lewis with the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017
Former Glamorgan players Alan Wilkins, Alan Jones and Tony Lewis with the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017

Matthew Maynard, England Test cap 532: "I am absolutely delighted for Alan. It was a world-class team he was up against and there was an iconic picture of him walking out at Lord's on his debut.

"He is a legend of Glamorgan cricket and has given back to the game, and I can't think of a more deserving manner in Alan to be recognised."

Will the ICC recognise the 1970 Test series?

The next step would be Jones officially being recognised by the ICC and that would require the series being granted Test match status.

After all, Australia's match against an ICC World XI in 2005 was classed as a Test match, and ECB chairman Graves says the ICC will be lobbied at the next meeting.

For now, Jones can finally be content with calling himself an England cricketer as he has the final word.

"I feel delighted and that number, 696, will always stay in my memory for the rest of my life," said Jones.

"I never thought this day would come."