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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Agony to ecstasy
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport at Trent Bridge

SIMON JONES FACTFILE
Simon Jones and has Cardiff City-style celebration
Born: Dec 25 1978
County: Glamorgan
Tests: 18
Wickets: 59
Average: 28.23
Best bowling: 6-53 v Australia at Old Trafford, 2005
Saturday is fancy dress day at every Test match this summer and there were plenty of superheroes doing the rounds in Nottingham.

Two Incredible Hulks popped out for lunch, passing Batman and Spiderman on their way back from the burger van.

On the field, a team once believed to contain 11 Supermen had been poleaxed by Simon Jones, green eyes glowing the colour of kryptonite.

In 13 balls during the morning session, Jones took three wickets for 22 runs and following Brett Lee's final flail, he had the desperate tail-ender caught in the deep.

It was the second time in the current series that Jones has had a dramatic effect on an Australian innings.

At Old Trafford a fortnight ago, he took five successive first innings wickets for figures of 6-53 as the Aussies were bowled out 142 runs behind.

It also confirmed his burgeoning reputation as a demon bowler of reverse-swing with the old ball.

Trent Bridge has seen a further step forward in his development as he joined the attack in only the seventh over of the Australian first innings and displayed immaculate control.

He dismissed skipper Ricky Ponting lbw on the second evening - although replays showed a thin inside edge - with a delivery that swung in conventionally.

Simon Katich was guilty of an unnecessary chop at a second-ball loosener when Jones arrived on the third morning, yet another example of him striking early in a new spell.

Simon Jones is helped off the field after injuring himself at the Gabba in 2002
I've worked hard, I've come back and I'm in the thick of a big series
Simon Jones
And Shane Warne, a regular irritant through this series, was squared up to give a looping catch to cover, rendering Australia thoroughly mortal at 157-7.

It was Warne who this week pin-pointed the accuracy and pace - rather than reverse swing - of England's bowlers as key to his side's recent struggles.

"We've always played against reverse swing," said Warne, about the only Aussie to have dealt with it this summer.

"But at the moment you've got guys liked Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones bowling at 90-95mph and not bowling freebies.

"Ball after ball in the right spot is tough to play."

Jones celebrated Warne's dismissal by banging his head with both palms, the salute beloved of Cardiff City football fans.

His buoyant celebrations this year have landed him in trouble with the match referee already but they show just how much he is revelling in a series he might easily have missed.

The footage of a miserable Jones being stretched from the Gabba outfield after tearing a cruciate ligament in his knee on the first day of the last Ashes series in 2002 still linger in the memory.

He took over a year to return to fitness, motivated by the thought of another chance to take on the best in the world.

But even at the start of the Test series there were question marks over his fragility - a knee injury saw him miss several one-day games - and his consistency.

"It's a dream come true," he said of his performance so far. "After only two Tests my career was nearly over.

"But I've worked hard, I've come back and I'm in the thick of a big series and I'm enjoying it - every minute."

He is not the only one.




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