Ashes 2019: Where is Wales' next cricketing hero to follow Simon Jones?

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Simon Jones: Former England bowler says Ashes series is biggest in cricket
Men's Ashes 2019: England v Australia, first Specsavers Ashes Test
Venue: Edgbaston Dates: 1-5 August Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website, plus in-play highlights and text commentary

As the Ashes starts this week, there will again be no Welshman involved in Test cricket's greatest series.

It has been 14 years since a home-grown player from Wales represented England, when Simon Jones played an integral part in the 2005 Ashes success against Australia.

Since then we have seen an Irishman with a Welsh surname, Eoin Morgan, lead England to Cricket World Cup glory. We have even witnessed Ireland taking on England in a Test at Lord's.

The debate will continue to rage about whether Wales should have its own team but the England set-up is currently the pathway for young Welsh players.

It is, after all, called the England and Wales Cricket Board. Even if the 'W' remains silent in the ECB acronym.

Before Jones, Glamorgan legends such as Tony Lewis, Hugh Morris, Steve James, Matthew Maynard, Robert Croft and Steve Watkin have all represented the daffodil in the England set-up before Jones.

But currently there is no sign of the conveyor belt starting up again.

Simon Jones celebrates Shane Warne's golden duck in the 2005 Ashes series
Simon Jones made his England Test debut against India in 2002

Keeping up with the Jones

Jones knows what it means to represent England after playing a starring role in the 2005 2-1 Ashes series win, taking 18 wickets at an average of 21 in four Test matches before missing the finale at The Oval through injury.

His final appearance at Trent Bridge was to prove his last in an England shirt. So is he surprised he was the last Glamorgan player to achieve that honour?

"It is tough as a Welsh lad trying to get into that side because they have had a good team for so long," said Jones.

"I feel privileged I was good enough to get in there. James Harris [the former Glamorgan bowler now at Middlesex] was next in line but he picked up a couple of injuries and it did not go to plan for him.

"We have got some good guys at Glamorgan. There are lads there who have the possibility of going on to play for England but they just have to keep working hard.

"The competition around the circuit is massive and the game is developing all the time."

Jones believes Welsh cricket will benefit from having another England international.

"It would be immense," said Jones.

"The key thing to kids wanting to participate in a sport is having role models. At the moment a lot of Welsh kids in cricket don't have someone to say 'I want to be like him'.

"It is key we find someone who is going to push for a place in that side.

"England have just won the World Cup and they are representing the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"It was an honour to be a Welshman playing in that side because not many have done so."

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Why doesn't Wales have a men's international cricket team?

Wales Test links

There have been some Welsh links with international cricket over the last 14 years, not least with Simon's namesake and fellow member of the 2005 Ashes winning side, Geraint Jones.

Born in Papua New Guinea to Welsh parents before spending his childhood in Australia, he is the last cricketer with Welsh roots to play for England. That is if you do not take into account that Sir Alastair Cook's mother hailed from Swansea.

Jones even played for Papua New Guinea later in his career between 2012 and 2014.

Pakistan left-arm spinner Imad Wasim was born in Swansea before leaving at an early age. Ruaidhri Smith, currently on Glamorgan's staff, has represented Scotland after being born in Glasgow, has an English father and an Irish mother and was brought up in Cardiff.

Who is next?

Harris was the player expected to follow on from Jones, but the 29-year-old has never made an international appearance.

This was despite receiving a call to the England squad for the Twenty20 series in India in 2012 and one-day squad in New Zealand in February 2013.

Former England Under-19 captain Aneurin Donald, 22, is with Hampshire while Bodelwyddan-born Philip Salt, also 22 and now playing for Sussex, has impressed in recent seasons.

After leaving north Wales, Salt lived for a few years in Barbados before settling in the Sussex system and was called up for England's Twenty20 squad for the one-off match against Pakistan in Cardiff, but was not selected.

Aneurin Donald
Aneurin Donald left Glamorgan for Hampshire in 2018

Too far off

Glamorgan prospects include Lukas Carey, Roman Walker, Prem Sisodiya and Kiran Carlson but they are a way off international recognition.

So not a long list of candidates, then who can make the ultimate step?

Matthew Maynard, now Glamorgan head coach and the England batting coach for the 2005 Ashes series, admits the conveyor belt has stuttered.

"If I am honest we are a little too far off and it would be nicer to be a lot closer than we are," said Maynard.

"We have some talented players, it's whether they reach that potential and whether they believe in themselves.

"Then it is an obtainable goal. Hopefully in about two or three years we will have someone knocking on the door."

Glamorgan director of cricket Mark Wallace, himself a former England academy prospect, is now the man in charge of the next generation.

"We have players who have their sights set on playing for England and that has to be the ultimate goal," said Wallace.

"It is not about just playing for Glamorgan, it's about trying to force yourself into the England reckoning.

"The England selectors are looking around the county game now, so our players should be looking at how they get in that England Lions squad and senior team after that."

Whether that will be in time for the next Ashes series in England in 2023 remains to be seen.

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