NOT A SPECTATOR: Chris Jones will play in the semi-finals of the LJ Hooker competition for Southern Districts today. He is trav
NOT A SPECTATOR: Chris Jones will play in the semi-finals of the LJ Hooker competition for Southern Districts today. He is trav

Keep up with that Jones boy

ONE of Chris Jones' first cricketing memories is being coached by Craig Bateman in a Southern Districts Under 6 side in the early 1990s.

Ironically, he got his break into first grade this season while Bateman, his former role model, was injured.

Over the next eight rounds he secured his spot with 13 wickets and will today bowl with Bateman for Souths in their Far North Coast LJ Hooker League semi-final against Casino Cavaliers.

"Richard Nind (captain) said, 'You're staying up here, you won't be going back' and I just stayed there to fill in for Paul Fredericks and Craig Bateman," Jones said.

It all seems like a dream for the 19-year-old who thought he would never play again after undergoing heart surgery for the second time in June last year.

"I played a lot of rep cricket when I was younger but when I first found out about my heart problem, I thought, 'Cricket? That's the end of it'," he said.

"I said to Richard Nind how lucky it is to come back in my first season and feel really fit and do reasonably well."

Jones' was diagnosed with a faulty heart chamber, a blocked valve and a leaking nerve after his heart rate was clocked by hospital staff at over 200 beats per minute.

"The first time I thought it was just dehydration on a really hot day," he said.

"I was playing cricket at Blair Oval in Lismore in Under 14s rep and my heart started racing. I was shaking and I went light-headed," he said.

It took a few trips to hospital, and a racing heart rate before, Jones was diagnosed.

His first operation in 2005 was unsuccessful and last season passed with him on a surgery waiting list.

"I thought no more crickets for me," he said. "I was shattered, sport is my life, I'm a very sporty person.

"I love any sport. Any chance I get of watching any sort of cricket I'll go down and watch matches."

But a strong recovery meant Jones was not destined to be a spectator for life.

"I've slowly worked my back into cricket," he said.

"I had to build up and get back ready for it again. The heat still affects me. At times I really get buggered by it but I feel so much better."

And now Jones has a chance play in a final series along side the players he idolised as a kid.

"Craig was my first ever coach. He used to look after me and I'd go to their games," he said.

"The Nind boys were in the team and Paul Fredericks ... now I'm playing with them. You wanted to be those sorts of people. Craig was a hero. He can do a lot with a ball and take a lot of wickets and he was a bowler to take after.

"Now I've always got him and Len Blok in my ear helping me out. They're two of the best bowlers you could play alongside."

This will be Jones' final season in Lismore before heading to the UK indefinitely on an ancestry visa.

After contacting an agent, Jones was approached by four different English clubs.

"Oh yeah, I'm stoked," he said.

"With the heart I didn't expect anything to happen again. I'm pretty lucky."

Jones will be part of a quality line-up charged with the duty of attacking Casino's top order.

"He's got wickets here and there every time he has had a bowl," Richard Nind said.

"He's put in the hard yards and made that step up to first grade and will replace Paul Fredericks who's got a bit of cartilage damage.

"We are just going out there like it was any other game and try to keep the pressure on Casino. Their top order is a bit fragile at the moment. They've lost early wickets the last two weeks and we'll be trying to exploit that and put pressure on their young openers with attacking fields.

"I'd say Sam Irvine is their main weapon and we've just got to get him early. He's the best bat in the comp."

Cavs need form Cavaliers captain Mal Hancock said he was confident his top order could turn around their form despite missing Sam Shepard whose out for the season with a broken right index finger.

"We've been 5-30 two weeks in a row. Hopefully things will turn around and the boys will get a bit of a start and make amends in a big way," he said.

"To beat Souths, the hardest thing is their batting. We need to bowl them out for a reasonable target.

"We're all looking forward to it. We're more than capable of doing it. If we cut out our mistakes we are certainly up there with the top sides.

"Hopefully new we're in the finals, everyone will be switched on and concentrating on the job."

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