8:28 AM ET
- Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
Survival of the fittest relies on the ability to adapt, so by following the laws of nature, Amy Jones is making strides in ensuring her longevity in England’s middle order.
Moved down from her preferred position as opener towards the end of the T20 World Cup in March, Jones is beginning to thrive at No. 5, as shown by her crucial half-century as England defeated West Indies for the fourth time in as many matches of their T20I series on Monday.
Just as she is adapting to her new role, Jones was able to adapt the conditions of the match, producing the knock England needed after slumping to 45 for 3.
Reprieved on just 2 when Lee-Ann Kirby put down a sitter at midwicket, Jones raced to a 30-ball fifty and shared a 65-run stand with Heather Knight from just 35 balls that allowed England to recover to 110 for 4 by the time Knight was caught behind off Shamilia Connell for 42.
Jones finished with 55 off 37 deliveries, her first T20I half-century in England, helping her side reach 166 for 6. That was their highest total of the series so far, and proved insurmountable for West Indies, who managed only 122 for 9 in reply.
“Batting in a different position than I have previously is a new challenge which I’m enjoying,” Jones said after being named player of the match. “It wasn’t my preference at the start when it was decided. I’ve always opened, it’s where I’ve seen myself.
“But since doing it it’s definitely a new challenge and I am enjoying it. You have to adapt to the situation at five which makes it a bit interesting.”
Jones batted at No. 6 in England’s last group match of this year’s T20 World Cup, also against West Indies. She looked far more comfortable in that match, scoring an unbeaten 23 off 13 balls, than she had for a while with scores of 23, 0 and 2 as opener in the previous three games and reaching double figures just once in four matches while opening in the tri-series against Australia and India immediately before the tournament.
Batting at No. 5 throughout the current series against West Indies in Derby, she had innings of 24, 25 and 4 heading into the penultimate fixture.
“That should have gone for four so I was annoyed that I picked her out,” Jones said of her second life following Kirby’s shelled catch. “But getting any chance is very helpful and I was happy to sort of cash in after that.”
Jones has had the added responsibility of following the retired Sarah Taylor as wicketkeeper and her glovework has been praiseworthy, particularly standing up to the stumps. But one area Jones is keen to work on is her aerial catching after dropping three in this series.
“It’s been an annoying one because I feel like I’m keeping as well as I ever have, probably better,” Jones said. “I can feel my game going up a level, felt like I’ve been really tidy, quite sharp. It’s just those skiers, I’m having a nightmare with them.
“It’s a real pain. They’re always tough chances but I need to be taking them. I guess I need a more stable base, get there early and try and trust my hands from there.
“I’ve had one chance before this and that was in West Indies and I dropped that so my record’s not great. The depth perception out of a black sky is always very difficult. It always feels like it’s coming right at you and then it seems to be a metre in front of me. I think it’s just about getting there early, try and make the ground early, being stable and then sort of reacting from there, which is something I’ve not mastered.”
Meanwhile, Stafanie Taylor, the West Indies captain, was scratching her head for answers as she looks to avoid a 5-0 series sweep.
After making three changes ahead of the fourth match, with Aaliyah Alleyne, Karishma Ramharack and Shabika Gajnabi coming in for Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry and Shakera Selman, Taylor didn’t rule out the possibility of more.
“I’m not sure what the selection is going to be like, but it’s the last game and we probably have players here who haven’t played much,” she told Sky Sports. “We still want to give players exposure but at the same time you want to keep that core group as well. You don’t want it to be all fresh faces. [I’m] not sure what it’s going to look like, but we’ll see.
“I will need more reflection really, just sitting down in my room. But right now it’s pretty much around bowling and batting. We’re still bowling in good areas, but the last five overs they are still beating us.
“The batting is still not coming. We’re still leaving it up to one person to get most of the runs, and we didn’t get off to a good start. Today was a perfect time for the other batters to step up, but that just wasn’t the case.”
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