Same mindset: Jones’ American mantra for South Africa Super Eight challenge

With dogged self-belief and a proven blueprint for success against the world’s best, Aaron Jones and USA look ahead to a Proteas Super Eights challenge in Antigua.

By Daniel Beswick in Antigua

USA’s Aaron Jones insists his side will carry the same mentality that helped them into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 Super Eight stage ahead of their meeting with South Africa in Antigua on Wednesday.

USA stun Pakistan in a dramatic Super Over finale in Dallas at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024.

Moving off home shores after a successful group stage push in Dallas, New York and Lauderhill, the Americans travel into the Caribbean now with aspirations of claiming a semi-final spot.

On the crest of the World Cup wave Jones says the camp is buoyant, with the mantra of fearless cricket he vowed before the tournament to continue.

“The boys are happy, the boys are excited to play against the best teams in the world.

“We wanted to do that (come in with energy). We've been speaking about that over the last couple of years. And here we are now. We're just going to enjoy our cricket and, as I said (before matchday one), play fearless cricket all the time.”

Compilation of the best moments for USA's Aaron Jones in the Group stage of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024.

Headlined by a win over Pakistan with a Super Over on the scoresheet that if anything undersold their dominance, the Americans also held their nerve on opening night against North American rivals Canada, and gave tournament frontrunners India a push in New York.

Also beating Bangladesh in a bilateral series coming into the tournament, USA’s somewhat measured celebrations after their Pakistan toppling suggested more is expected, with winning against more-fancied teams merely a product of their meticulous process.

“I think it starts with the belief that we could beat anybody,” Jones continued, speaking on the side’s mentality.

“Even before the World Cup we've had a few series and obviously everybody knows we came out on top against Bangladesh, who are a really good team to be honest.

“We always believed before the World Cup that we could beat bigger teams or better teams and obviously we showed it against Pakistan. It's going to be the same mindset going into the Super Eights now.

“We want to play hard cricket and if you come out on top it's good, if you don't come out on top then we learn.”

The American success has not gone unnoticed by the best in cricket, with arguably the best observer of the game, ICC Hall of Famer and Australian legend Ricky Ponting, suggesting the match could go either way if South Africa are “five per cent off their game.”

Ponting's perspective on South Africa v USA

For the Americans, a key part of more success will likely be Jones’ explosiveness with the bat, having flourished even when walking out to bat in difficult circumstances.

Striding out at 42/2 in the seventh over in a chase of 195, Jones plundered 10 sixes to make 94 not out from 40 balls, racing past the target in the 18th over. A knock of 36* (26) and a cool head in the Super Over against Pakistan followed, as the right-hander finished as the most prolific run-scorer in Group A, making 141 runs at strike rate of 160. Of those to pass 100 runs at the tournament, only Marcus Stoinis (190) and Brandon McMullen (170) boast better scoring rates.

The stretch of form belies Jones's career T20I strike rate that sat at just 105.79 before the tournament began, though the 29-year-old suggests the figure is a red herring, having been forced to play in different ways, dictated by match situations.

“I like to play the situation. I like to play for my team always.

“If it's the case I'm playing a game and we need five runs an over, I'll bat to suit. If we need 15 runs or over, I'll bat to suit.

“I don't really worry about the whole talk about strike rate and all that other stuff.”

A contingent of travelling American fans is expected, but for the fans back home, new and old, Jones hears their support in the Caribbean as they continue their dream run.

“Over the last few years, we've been talking about growing a bigger following as it relates to US cricket and I think it's growing slowly right now so we definitely thank them for sure.

"Just keep supporting us, keep following us, keep watching our games and we'll definitely put on a good show for everybody for sure."

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