Usually our series of contemporary literature reviews are based either on books that we have been gifted for Christmas or ones that we have managed to blag off a publisher / desperate ex-pro via twitter. Whereas in this case, despite 100% cast-iron lawful promises, Mr Jones failed to deliver us a freebie.
However to avoid spending gin money on a book that has not yet been dispatched to the bargain buckets, we found this autobiography in a local library. So fuck you Yellow Jersey Press, and thank you, Manchester City Council. The book is subtitled ‘My Life, and the Inside Story of the Greatest Ashes Series’ – an ostentatious use of the Oxford comma if nothing else. It should probably be renamed ‘The Inside Story of the Greatest Ashes Series, and Some Bits About My Life’, because it is divided into ten chapters, including one each for the five 2005 Tests.
A preliminary flick through the book reduces expectation dramatically. Large font? Check. A handy guide to nicknames before the preface? Check – who would have thought that ‘Belly’ is Ian Bell and ‘Warnie’ Shane Warne? Praise from utter gobshites on the dust jacket? Check.
The book itself is readable, although its prose is as far from purple as it is possible to be – basically the yellowest shade of yellow. In literary terms, it feels like it has been written by a professional sportsman, rather than, say, Dylan Thomas. Each chapter about the 2005 Ashes is written in the present tense. This works to some extent – it’s an attempt to make the reader feel they are genuinely ‘inside’ the series- but leads to odd sentences such as “(Strauss) will be captain one day.” We’re surprised Jones hasn’t made lots of other retrospective future predictions: “he’ll score 158 in a World Cup match one day”, or “he’ll call KP an absolute c**t live on air one day.”
The non-Ashes chapters cover the important parts of Jones’s career as a fast bowler. The most telling of these are when he writes about the constant pain that fast bowlers feel in their bodies, and having to distinguish between normal pain and something more serious. Sadly, as we all know, Jones had more than his fair share of things more serious and the way that he describes the frustration of moving counties and never quite getting his career back on track post-2005 is genuinely moving. This emotion is offset a tad by Jones pointing out that he is not a millionaire. The less autobiographies say about money, the better.
What are the other revelations in the book? Long before David Warner punched Joe Root, England frequented the Birmingham Walkabout. The editor doesn’t know how Allan Border spells his first name. Jones considers a top four of Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Ridley Jacobs as “very decent” – apropos of nothing he dismissed all four of them at Trinidad in 2004.
There are a few errors in the book, which always makes us feel rather smug. For example ‘Jonah’ claims that his innings of 44 is the joint-highest Test score by a Glamorgan player – shared with Hugh Morris. This is 100% true, if you ignore the four larger innings played by Tony Lewis.
Overall, we suggest there’s no need to go and buy this book – as much as Jones could do with the extra dough. But if you do spy it on the shelf of your local library, it’s worth the money. Insert reference to Manic Street Preachers’ A Design for Life here.