As she saw England lift the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in front of a sold-out Lord’s in July 2017, Amy Jones vowed to do everything she could to be in the team the next time they won a title.
The 25-year old wicket-keeper batter, who made her England debut during the previous edition of the tournament, in 2013, was into her fifth year as an international cricketer at the time of the event. But she had never enjoyed a long stint with the team. And by the time the World Cup had come around, Jones found herself out of favour again.
"I have been at a number of World Cups running the drinks," she told Sky Sports in a chat. “It was a doubt in my mind as to whether I was going to have a lot of potential but not fulfill it. There is only so long you can run the drinks for before they find someone else to do it. Being dropped for the World Cup at home was the turning point for me, it was something that really shook. I took that very hard and I think it just woke me up a little bit.
A change of mindset that came with a technical change made me hit the ball harder and I just got more confidence from that. I felt I had nothing to lose.
"Even now, when you walk around Loughborough (the training centre), there are so many pictures of the girls lifting the trophy. It is a massive motivator for me to make sure I don't cruise or don't get left behind and make sure when we raise the next trophy I am there with them."
Jones continued to endure a rough time in the months following that tournament. She wasn’t selected to travel to Australia for the Women’s Ashes. Instead, she went to Perth, where she joined Western Fury in the Women’s National Cricket League. "The worst thing had happened," she said. "Once I got dropped, I realised I needed to do more. I was cruising and this [being dropped] shook me up. It flicked a switch a little bit in that I needed to make the most of my ability.
"Going out to Australia with that extra responsibility, I decided I had to play with freedom because what I was doing wasn't scoring me big runs. A change of mindset that came with a technical change made me hit the ball harder and I just got more confidence from that. I felt I had nothing to lose.”
After 17 months out of the one-day side, external circumstances paved the way for Jones’s return. In March 2018, Sarah Taylor was excluded for the India tour, after the selectors decided to give her time off to deal with anxiety issues that had kept her out of the sport in 2016. Handed the dual responsibility of keeping wicket and batting at No.3, Jones marked her return with a pair of ducks. Fighting for her place, she hit back with 94 in the third ODI in Nagpur, before being run out six short of a maiden ton.
"The last tour to India was obviously a huge opportunity and one of the biggest I had gotten," Jones said. “It was a really big chance for me to show everyone what I could do. The coaches told me to stay confident, that I was playing well in the nets, and for me, it was about going out there and playing each ball. I was so nervous in the third ODI and I was so happy to get that first run. It was a good lesson for me in keeping faith in what I am doing in the nets.”
That innings set her long-term comeback on path. Jones was named in the ODI squad for the home series against South Africa and New Zealand, despite the return of regular wicket-keeper Taylor, as well as the ICC Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean in November. Jones struck two half-centuries in three matches against New Zealand, and was England’s top scorer in the World T20 as they made the final.
"Having been around the team and not getting a big score in me does leave you with doubts, so to get the score and build on it during last summer was big,” she said. "Knowing I was going to go out and open for a set amount of games lifted a bit of pressure off me and I could just go out and play freely."
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