By Ronan Alexander
Following the retirement of Kyle Coetzer from T20 internationals, Scotland were on the lookout for a new opening batter. It’s safe to say they have pretty big shoes to fill after Coetzer racked up 1495 T20I runs during his 14 years across the format. The man to fill the void is 24-year-old Durham batter Michael Jones. The right hander had an excellent summer in the North-East across all three formats. He made 319 runs @26 in the Vitality Blast, 878 County Championship runs @51, which included two centuries and five fifties as well as 125 runs in two Royal London Cup knocks, which included 119, making it three tons in all competitions.
Let’s take a look at what type of T20 batter Jones is. If we look at how he compares to other T20 Blast batters, Jones is better than the majority in terms of the runs he scored, average, balls per dismissal, strike rate, boundary and six percentage, as well as his powerplay strike rate. The main takeaways are that he is an aggressive opener who will look to make full use of the first six overs whilst also being reliable, getting out every 18.9 balls, which is better than most and he comes off the back of a successful summer.
In terms of what type of bowling he prefers, it’s clear to see he is more of a pace hitter. His highest averages and strike rates are against seam bowling. His strike rates against spin are still respectable. With Jones opening with Scotland’s most destructive player of spin, George Munsey, this means that opponents may be reluctant to target Jones with spin early, knowing what Munsey can do from the other end.
|Bowling Type||Average||Strike Rate|
|Left arm seam||–||221.4|
|Right arm seam||30.2||140.3|
With Jones striking well against seam, one of his go-to shots sees him skip down the wicket whilst giving himself a bit of room, allowing him to smash back of a length deliveries over the covers or over mid wicket, as shown below.
The graph above shows batters in the powerplay during the 2022 Blast. Jones is above par for both his average and strike rate, showing how he impressed for Paul Franklin’s side during the competition during the first six overs. If he can replicate this, it’ll provide an excellent platform for the middle order of Macleod, Berrington and Cross to get the Scots in a position where finisher Michael Leask can come in and free his arms, a role he’s been so destructive at over the last 18 months.
The T20 World Cup presents Jones with the opportunity to finish a hugely successful calendar year in good style and cement his place at the top of Scotland’s T20 batting order for the foreseeable future.