USA’s top-order batter Aaron Jones believes he will be treating playing against West Indies in the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers as playing against his friends in the backyard.
Jones, 28, was born in New York and started learning the game while living in Barbados in his early years, before moving base to North Carolina, USA.
It meant he grew up alongside players now representing West Indies, who will face off against Jones’ USA team in the ODI World Cup Qualifier Group A opener on July 18.
“For me, it is just like playing against my friends. I grew up playing with the guys from Barbados – Shai Hope, Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Roston Chase – and I played against some of the other guys, like Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell. Barbados was a great place to play cricket and there was a lot of competition.”
“The club game and First Class game are both very competitive. We have played against the West Indian squad a lot — as a USA squad, we have been part of the List A competition in the Caribbean, so that has given us an idea of what to expect. I want to go hard and I want to win, for sure, but I will just have to treat it like another game. It will be a great occasion,” Jones was quoted as saying by ICC.
In Zimbabwe now ahead of his side’s first appearance at an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier since 2005, Jones top-scored with 89 in a five-wicket defeat against Ireland in a warm-up match and believes ODI World Cup qualification would showcase the depth of cricketing interest which exists in the USA.
“A lot has changed in terms of facilities and investment in cricket in the US since we were last playing at this level. There are more grass wickets around, as opposed to astroturf and matting, and the amount of quality players we have to play against has gone up.”
“The USA is not seen as a cricketing nation in terms of the world knowing about us playing but within the country, there are a lot of Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and people from the Caribbean, who all come from cricketing backgrounds from their previous countries. There is definitely a lot of support – I would say only behind India and Bangladesh – and we just want to make everybody back home proud,” he added.
USA is slated to host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 alongside West Indies. But Jones’ focus, for now, is to solely help his country create history in the coming weeks. “In this team, I am the person to anchor the batting so I will take pride in doing that and getting my team to the World Cup.”
“It would be great to grow the sport in our country and play in World Cups. Not only for ourselves – when we move on, we want to leave something behind for the youngsters to look up to. It is very important for us to have a legacy,” he concluded.