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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Nigel Geoffrey Jones
  • Born 22 April 1982 Timaru, New Zealand
  • Educated Geraldine High School, South Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Occupation Regional Development Officer
  • Debut 27 May 2009 v New Zealand at County Ground, Derby
  • Cap Number 672
  • Style Right hand bat, right arm medium pace
  • Teams Geraldine, South Canterbury U19, Emerging Players & Hawke Cup Men (Minor County), St Albans, Canterbury U19, Emerging Players, 2nd XI & select XI (County), Penicuik, Cooke Collegians, Civil Service North of Ireland.

Nigel Jones is commanding upper order batsman, usually to be seen at opening or at first wicket down, and a good medium pacer, who ranks among the foremost all-rounders in NCU cricket. He is also a fine tactician, having led CSNI since he joined the Club in 2007 and an outstanding coach.

His upbringing in the New Zealand town of Geraldine, for whose club he played his first senior cricket, gave him, unconsciously, his first links to Ireland and - indeed - more tenuously, to Irish cricket. Geraldine was named after the leading 19th century New Zealand politician James Edward Fitzgerald, who claimed descent from the Earls of Kildare, prominent figures in early Tudor Ireland and had as a maternal grandfather Sir Lucius Henry O'Brien, after whom the great Irish batsman Lucius Gwynn, whose mother was of the same family, was named.

Nigel's first major club, St Albans, has a 105 year history and proudly claims 11 men and 14 women who have represented New Zealand, including, for example New Zealand's second ever captain Milford "Curly" Page and, more recently, father and son Test men Zinzan and Chris Harris, as well as Tom Burt, slow left armer and one of the few bowlers to trouble Len Hutton, during the master batsman's record breaking season of 1949. The Club does not, however, claim its one Irish international or mention the fact that he made his debut against New Zealand.

Nigel's performances in grade cricket gained him selection for Canterbury at U17 and U19 level in the 1998 /99/2000 seasons. Among his team-mates was future Black Cap ODI players Michael Papps, Shanan Stewart and Andrew Ellis while Brendon McCullum was among those whom he played against. In matches of which scores have been seen, he did not bowl, but, opening the batting, had a number of useful, though not outstanding scores. The majority of these matches were of 3 days duration and there were a high number of draws. In adult Cricket Nigel's performance for St Albans in grade 'A' club cricket gained him selection for Catherbury at Emerging Players, 2nd XI and 'select' XI level in the 2002/03/04/05/06 seasons. It was not until the 2004/05 season that Nigel really found his batting shoes, becoming the 3rd highest on the all-time 'season' run scoring aggregate for St Albans CC (becoming club player of the year for that season) and furthermore to club cricket he averaged around the 40 mark with the bat for Canterbury 2's (2nd XI). We should mention here that he appears on scorecards of these games as NG Tubb, indeed it is not until his CSNI debut that he is shown as Jones, taking his step fathers' name.

2002 saw him playing for Penicuik in Division 2 of the Scottish Cricket League. The pleasant ground, with fine views of the Moorfoot Hills is situated a few miles from Edinburgh and witnessed Nigel have a successful season which helped the Club to a mid-table position. He had several useful performances with bat and ball and three which were rather more than that. On 1 June he bowled unchanged against Stirling County to finish with figures of 11-3-18-5 setting up a 9 wickets victory. He was then in at the death on 9*. Three weeks later he had 5-37 in 14.4 overs to help dismiss Strathmore - away - for 150. He then opened the batting, but, unfortunately, rain intervened with both his and his side's scores on 1. However ample revenge was gained in the return fixture towards the end of the season. Batting first Penicuik posted an impressive 304-5, Nigel, in his final match for the Club, hitting a dominating 124.

In 2003 he made his first appearance in NCU cricket for Cooke Collegians In Section 2 of Division 1in the Ulster Bank League. To say that he made his mark would be somewhat of an understatement. He finished second in the Section 2 batting averages with 722 runs at 51.57, including one 100 and five 50s. Among those below him in the "charts" were Gary Wilson and the McCrum brothers. He also took 29 wickets at 15.87. His century came against Woodvale at the end of July. The Ballygomartin Road side put together a useful 189-9 but thereafter the result was never really in doubt. Opening the innings, Nigel stormed his way to 105, bringing Cooke a 5 wickets victory. Among other knocks that were, at least partly, instrumental in positive we may mention a 70 which led to a 7 wicket win over Bangor, a brilliant, undefeated 85 which brought about a 5 wickets success over Laurelvale and, again undefeated, 62 against Dunmurry at McComb Park leading to a 10 wickets victory. He also found a suitable match to produce his best bowling figures of the season, taking 4-14 in a tie with Holywood.

In 2007 he joined Civil Service North as captain, a position he has held ever since. His value to the Stormont side has been immense as the fact that he has virtually annexed the Club's Player of the Year award, the Simon Corlett Cup, bears witness. In his first year he was seen to best advantage with a rumbustious 122 in the T20 competition against Dunmurry. The following season was one of great success for the Club as they carried off the Challenge Cup and finished second in the League. Nigel played no small part in their success. Apart from his leadership skills, he aggregated 743 runs at 58.90 with one 100 and five 50s besides taking 18 wickets at 14.33. Two of his best performances came against Carrickfergus in the League.

At Stormont on 18 May, he came in at 14-1 after he had won the toss. He was still there at the end on 104 with the scoreboard showing 231-6. He did not howl in the visitors reply but CSNI romped home by 100 runs. In the return match some two months later he made 47 as CSNI totalled 243-7. He then played a leading role in dismissing the hosts for 86 with figures of 7-2-8-4. He also had a key role in the Cup Final, a low scoring encounter with Waringstown on "a bowler's track" at The Meadow. Batting first CSNI were 150-9 at the end of their 50 overs only Nigel, with a hard earned 51, having looked comfortable against Kyle McCallan and Gary Kidd. Fellow Kiwi Regan West then bowled well to bring about a 4 runs victory, Nigel deservedly winning the Bill McCarroll Man of the Match award.

The following season he led his side to the Ulster Cup defeating North Down in a well fought Final. His big contribution, however, had come in the Quarter Final with Fox Lodge at Ballymagorry when he (99) and West (107) had put on 187 for the 3rd wicket, before Regan with 4-64 bowled CSNI to a narrow victory. Nigel was again in fine Cup form in the NCU Challenge against Holywood at Stormont in 2010. Regarded as " the easiest draw in the quarter finals" the match may have been, but Nigel, opening the batting, made sure that there could be no upsets with a blistering 137, the highest score of the 2010 competition which saw the hosts to an unreachable 278-8. However they lost the semi-final to North Down by 7 wickets. That summer also saw him hit 124 against Cork County in The Bob Kerr Cup. This was a remarkable innings setting up a huge victory as CSNI reached 295-3. Nigel faced 137 balls, hitting 11 fours and 3 sixes, batting at No 3 in an innings which lasted for 12 minutes under 3 hours. He was eventually caught off Bruce Koch.

The 2011 season was particularly noteworthy for a devastating spell of bowling against Downpatrick which helped him towards an overall bag of 32 at 13.91. Against Downpatrick in the League CSNI led off with 236-7, Nigel for once being confined to 27. However the visitors were never in the hunt as Nigel returned figures of 8.4-3-15-6, bowling them out for 65.

Pride of place in last (2012) season's matches must go to an all-round performance in the Ulster Cup against Fox Lodge away. Opening he put on 250 for the 1st wicket with Charlie Beverland, Nigel making 148 as CSNI reached 350. Fox Lodge took up the challenge making a respectable 252 in reply. They might have got closer had Nigel not weighed in with 4-29 and 2 catches. The visitors returned to the capital victorious by 98 runs. In their previous match, a Bob Kerr Cup game with Phoenix, Nigel had again taken the game away from the opposition early in the match, hitting 112 off 102 balls with 12fours and 2 sixes. He put on 193 for the second wicket with South African professional Griffin Nieuwoudt (90).

Nigel's Irish representative career began with an appearance for Ireland A in 2008 for whom in 11 matches he averaged 34.66 with the bat and took 17 wickets at 17.24. His best season was 2009, when he also made his debut in the full Irish side. Leading the team against a strong Yorkshire XI, he was one of several players to fail in the first innings as Ireland were forced to follow on 169 runs behind. However, batting at 4, he found his Stormont form in the second innings making 99 before being caught by England U 19 medium pacer Charles Roebuck off left armer Jack Hughes for 99. He batted for 144 minutes, and, facing 190 balls, hit 8 fours and 3 sixes. With Andy Balbirnie making 100*, Nigel was able to declare, setting Yorkshire 232 to win. They did so by 3 wickets, with Nigel taking 2-36. Later in the season, now playing under the captaincy of John Mooney, he made 80* against MCC at Lord's in a 50 over match. He hit 8 fours but was poorly supported as Ireland failed 67 runs to pass the hosts 306-6.

It would probably be fair to say that Nigel has not really reproduced such batting form in his 34 matches for the full Ireland side. One reason for this must be that he has often batted low down the order and in T20 or ODI matches has often not had the chance to build an innings due to limited time or maybe even under team instruction to clear the front leg. His highest score of 30 came in a one day match against Jamaica in the Caribbean shortly before the 2010 T20 World Cup. He came in at 171-5 with quick runs urgently needed but, in company with his team-mates found himself tied down by the Jamaica spinners. His runs came off 46 balls with 1 four and 1 six, the latter being the only boundary hit by Ireland between the 23rd and 46th overs. Unsurprisingly the match was lost.

A happier innings was his 25 in the ODI against Canada at Toronto later the same year. Coming in at 4 he helped Paul Stirling in a partnership of 68, hitting 2 fours in a 28 balls stay. Stirling was, of course, rampaging at the other end on his way to his epic 177. Nigel also appeared in Ireland's two T20 World Cup matches in Sri Lanka last (2012) year. Ireland struggled to produce a competitive score in both matches, the opponents being Australia and the West Indies, but, reaching 14 in both games, hitting a 6 in each, Nigel did better than several of his team-mates. He has also taken 16 wickets for Ireland in all matches at a solid economy rate of 4.57, when you consider most of those overs have come in T20 or ODI matches. Nigel's scalps include including that of Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel and Shakib Al Hasan.

In January 2013 Nigel Geoffrey Jones was appointed full time Cricket Development Officer for the NCU region. He decided, with great regret, that this meant that he had to retire from international cricket, though, of course, he will continue to be the scourge of bowlers at Stormont and elsewhere on the club circuit. Ireland coach Phil Simmons paid him a well-deserved tribute saying that he had always worked hard on his game and had been "A fantastic servant of Irish Cricket." Phil finished by saying that Nigel's new post was" A wonderful appointment for him and Cricket Ireland." Few, if any, would disagree with that.