Adrian Jones forged a 13 year career spanning 226 matches in the Premier firsts for St Kilda, taking 425 wickets @ 22.72. Adrian was also apart of St Kilda’s golden run in the early 2000s where they pulled off an incredibly rare 4-peat.
After stepping away from Premier cricket in a playing capacity Adrian spent four years captain coaching the Kingston Saints in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association (VSDCA) before returning to St Kilda for a six year coaching stint that included a club championship. In 2016/17 he signed on as the coach of Mordialloc in the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) leading them to two Turf 1 premierships in three seasons. Last year Adrian returned to the VSDCA as Caulfield’s coach, he also works as a regional manager for Cricket Victoria.
Thanks for giving up your time today Adrian, let’s get started,
Q. What year were you born?
Q. When did you start playing cricket and who for?
I started playing when I was 7 for Aspendale.
Q. When did you realise you had the potential to go beyond local cricket?
Probably not until I was invited when I was about 17.
Q. At what age did you start playing Premier cricket?
I started playing Premier cricket when I was 20.
Q. Tell us about your journey to Premier Cricket?
I was playing in the Aspendale senior team and it was a very successful team. We were playing Beaumaris and I took a five-fa in the final. Bruce Downie was their captain and an ex-St Kilda player, after the game he spoke to me and told me I should go to St Kilda. I didn’t go and next year we played them in the final again. I went well and this year they also had Nigel Murch who was another ex-St Kilda player, they both told me I should go and got Geoff Tamblyn to give me a ring. I eventually made the move and ended up playing the second half of the 1991/92 season and winning a premiership with the thirds. It was a dominant year for the club as the firsts, thirds and fourths all won premierships.
Q. When did you make your Premier Firsts debut and what was that like?
I made my 1st XI debut in 1993/94. In 1992/93 I played half the season in the thirds and half in the seconds. After that year with retirements and different things about half our firsts team disbanded and opportunities came about for me.
Q. When did you take your first Premier Firsts five wicket haul and what was that like?
Geez, that’s a tough one. I can’t really remember, it wasn’t my first year because it took me seven games before I got my first wicket! I think it was like 2 years later. It was against Footscray and I got Tony Dodemaide out. When he was CEO of Cricket Victoria I liked reminding him about it now and then even though he doesn’t remember the game.
Q. You were a part of a St Kilda dynasty, winning four in a row, what made that team so good?
Everyone in the team was a pretty good player. We hadn’t played finals for 6 or 7 years and we just committed and really banded together. We had some young kids who wanted to go on to higher levels of cricket so they were really driven and we were sick of losing so we were driven to win as well.
Q. Are any of those premierships particularly special to you or are they all just as good?
No, they’re all just as good. We beat Essendon and we beat Frankston, but we had a big rivalry with Melbourne and a lot of people said we’d never beaten Melbourne at full strength. We beat Melbourne at full strength so that was nice to silence the critics.
Q. Did you have any standout performances in those grand finals?
Not really, I had a 5 wicket match where I took 3 in the first innings and 2 in the second innings against Essendon and then I took 2, 2 and 2. So I went 3, 2, 2, 2 and 2. So just a lot of handy contributions I guess.
Q. You spent 13 seasons at St Kilda, was it important to you to be a one club player or was that just how things panned out?
It is important. There was a period where I wasn’t in favour with the selectors, I was about 27 and I entertained the idea of moving clubs. The skipper pulled me aside and said I was valued and needed so I stuck at it and it ended up being the right call.
Q. Which season or seasons stand out to you as your best on a personal note?
2003/04 definitely stands out, I took 51 wickets that year.
Q. What was the key to your prolonged success, and did you ever have any injury troubles?
The big key was staying fairly fit for the duration of my career. When I was 16 or 17, I had stress fractures in my back and missed a whole season of local cricket. It probably took me about 18 months to properly recover from those, I found a really good physio who had done work with the Australian team and he taught me a really good way of stretching and got me into better shape. I did rehab, ticked all the boxes and after that I took my stretching and preparation pretty seriously and didn’t miss much more cricket.
Q. Did you ever have to deal with any setbacks in your cricketing journey and if so, what were they?
No, apart from the stress fractures not really. I think I only missed three games in all my time at St Kilda. I had some stress fractures in my foot at one stage and our coach, Shaun Graf was big on running around Albert Park Lake. I couldn’t get around too well and he wasn’t happy with me but I had surgery after the season and got that fixed up. Other than that, just a bit of fluctuating form at the wrong times.
Q. Are there any bowling performances of yours that stand out as particularly special, and if so which ones?
I took 7/81 against Hawthorn, that was my best bowling and something I thought I’d never achieve. I took a 4-fa in a semi final against Melbourne in 1999/2000, I got Brad Hodge, Warren Ayres and Andrew McDonald out. Brad Hodge might’ve got 60 or so but Ayres and McDonald didn’t get many and it’s important to limit those guys in a finals game.
Q. Which batsmen did you find most challenging to bowl to over your career?
All the good ones. Matthew Elliott scored a hundred against us twice, I wasn’t the best to left handers. I probably struggled against Brendan Joyce and Clinton Peake as well, they were good left handers.
Q. Who would you rate as your best scalps?
My best would probably be Brad Hodge or Warren Ayres, I think I got both of them a few times but they got me a few times too. It’s good competition.
Q. What was your favourite part of playing Premier cricket?
Being able to be consumed by the game. You can just immerse yourself in a few hours of training a couple of nights a week and all weekend. There’s no questions asked if you do more work and I love the comradery.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of playing Premier cricket?
For me it was probably the conditions, flat, covered wickets and long days in the field makes it a bit harder for a fast bowler.
Q. What advice would you give to a young cricketer that has aspirations of playing high level cricket?
Give it a go and don’t have any preconceived ideas. Be the best you can be, you never know how good you’re going to be so just learn about your own game and your own capabilities.
Q. How’d you find your way into coaching?
That’s a good question, I had nothing to do one Sunday so I decided to go down to Frankston and did the level 1 coaching by myself across two Sundays. The Premier clubs had to provide a coach for the Regional Rep teams so David Johnstone asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. I ended up coaching Peter Handscomb and Clive Rose in that team that won the U15 State Championships.
Q. What was your experience like captain coaching Kingston Saints in the VSDCA?
It was a great experience for my development, I got to captain outright and coach. The club was very generous in allowing me to do everything and not really ask any questions. I made a few mistakes and probably took on too many tasks but I wasn’t questioned and there was little criticism so I assumed I was going alright. Once I’d decided to leave Premier cricket a few stronger local clubs wanted me but I decided to join Kingston and they weren’t travelling overly well, I took it upon myself and challenged myself to try and improve them where I could.
Q. How’d you land the head coaching role at St Kilda?
It was good timing, I’d done enough at Kingston and Gerard Cull who was coaching there had pulled up stumps so the timing just fell in quite nicely and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity.
Q. You took over as head coach of St Kilda in 2010/11 and won the minor premiership, next season the team fell down to 11th what was the reason for the drop off?
We lost a few strong players after the 2010/11 season and there was a bit of complacency in the group. Players that came into the firsts and really needed to make their mark probably didn’t push themselves hard enough.
Q. In your six years coaching St Kilda you won a club championship and two minor premierships but never went all the way to a 1st XI flag, was that disappointing?
It was very disappointing. We had a good team that lost the semi final to Essendon at Junction Oval and they went on but lost easily to Footscray in the final. In that game, we probably didn’t bat as well as we could’ve and didn’t get enough runs. We didn’t assess the conditions properly and adjust to them, we played too many attacking shots and didn’t soak up pressure and wear down bowling where we should’ve. Clint McKay played a really good innings for them, he took it on a bit and managed to lob the ball into all kinds of weird and wonderful places. That game was definitely a real missed opportunity.
Q. How’d you find your time at St Kilda overall?
I loved it, I was comfortable in the environment and I had the right people around me who challenged me and wanted to get the best out of me for the club.
Q. You had a very successful coaching stint at Mordialloc in the DDCA winning two Turf 1 premierships in three years, how’d you find your time there?
It was very enjoyable. I played one year of under 16’s there when Aspendale didn’t have a team so it was good seeing a few people I knew. The team I took over was a ready made team with lots of experience, some good Sri Lankan imports and that first premiership was probably more a credit to them than anyone else. After that, a few older blokes retired and the kids we brought in really performed so that second premiership was a bit unexpected. It wasn’t really planned for but the young talent performed really well and there wasn’t as much experience in the team that second time around. It was also good to get a bit of perspective on the DDCA, as the Regional Cricket Manager I’d done a lot of work within it, particularly the juniors, but hadn’t really seen much of it except for mid-week T20’s. It was also good to catch up socially with people I would only ever really communicate with via email.
Mordialloc celebrating their Turf 1 premiership
Q. What was the reason for leaving Mordialloc after such a successful period?
It was more to do with the club’s obligations to their overseas players. Their budget was tight and they had some tough financial decisions to make and we agreed it would make life easier if they didn’t have to worry about funding a coach.
Q. This year you took up a coaching role at Caulfield in the VSDCA, has it been good getting back involved with former St Kilda players Graeme Rummans and Lachie Graf?
Yes, it was quite enjoyable. Graeme had a fantastic year and he was really performing well, Lachie was also more mature in his cricket than the last time I’d been with him. We had a good year but unfortunately didn’t get to play the grand final. It would’ve been a great game, we’ve got a great rivalry with Oakleigh and I’m sure they were looking forward to it just as much as us.
Q. You had a great season at Caulfield but the grand finals were cancelled due to coronavirus and you ultimately missed out on the premiership by 3 points, how’d you find out the grand final was off and what was that like?
They made a decision late on Monday. There was an email sent from the Sub-District Association to the clubs and I received that and circulated it to the players. With my work at Cricket Victoria, I had an inkling they would make the decision and once the Sheffield Shield was cancelled it was pretty obvious to me the association would fall into that category. We wanted to play and it would’ve been nice to explore all the possibilities of playing with social distancing measures and so forth but looking back in hindsight with how the situation progressed throughout the week and where it is now it was definitely the right decision.
Q. You’re putting together quite an impressive coaching resume, what would you say makes you a good coach?
My coaching has definitely developed along the way. I started off with a bit of tunnel vision. I’ve developed my flexibility around hard work, time and effort as I understand for some blokes just how much of an effort it is to turn up to training, you have to be more flexible with people when you don’t know what they’re going through. I wasn’t a prodigious talent and I’ve seen guys with a lot more talent than me still have to work really hard to go places. The ultimate goal is to improve everyone and try and get the best out of everyone.
Q. What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I like the fact that I’m trying to help everyone improve. I enjoy giving my input, talking cricket with people and seeing what they think and what they can achieve.
Q. What are some of the challenges of coaching?
The big challenge for me is having the people who don’t want to put in the effort, take short cuts, and still expect to be involved in success. I’m not a fan of people who don’t put in as much effort as they should.
Q. Is coaching something you want to pursue in higher levels of cricket?
I’d love to coach higher levels of cricket. Like cricket, coaching is something you’ve never mastered but there’s not a lot of positions available at that next level. I don’t have first class playing experience and that is certainly helpful so you can relate to players about certain situations. I have coached Michael Beer, Peter Handscomb, James Muirhead and Rob Quiney who all went on to play for Australia so it was good getting to pick their brains and talk with them about their experiences.
Q. From what you’ve seen what are the main differences in standard, between Turf 1 in the DDCA, 1st XI in the VSDCA and Premier Firsts?
There’s no difference in standard between Subbies (VSDCA) and the DDCA. The good teams have 2 to 3 outstanding players, whether they’re local or international talent. Then there’s the mid-tier who are very capable and games are often won or lost by that middle tier of players. Then you have the bottom tier which is your young up and comers or older veterans. Premier cricket simply has more depth at the clubs, that’s the main difference between Premier cricket and Subbies or DDCA.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your role as Cricket Victoria regional manager and what that involves?
Yes, so I’m the Cricket Manager of the region for Dandenong and Casey. We really try and promote junior cricket so we have the Woolworths Cricket Blast which is for ages 5 and up. Cricket’s a lot harder compared to Auskick or soccer because you can’t just play matches, you have to teach kids the basics of how to bowl which can be challenging. The next level is the Master Blaster and that’s where kids play little matches that then feeds them into under 11’s. We also try and recruit participants through schools and get participation numbers up. We work on getting the clubs to run themselves and function on their own as much as possible by assisting their volunteers. There’s also representative cricket, that involves nominating, selecting and training the squads. It’s now become compulsory that teams have an accredited coach so we have to make sure every club has enough coaches with the right training.
Q. From the early 1990s to now, you’ve been involved in a playing or coaching capacity every season and you work for Cricket Victoria, have you ever felt like you’ve needed a break from cricket?
No, I’ve enjoyed the game every year and I’m always learning more, you can never master coaching. Coaching doesn’t take a physical toll so that makes it easier. I also coach my son’s Aspendale U14’s team and I love seeing him develop with his mates. He played his first senior game with me in the fourths at Caulfield. It’s funny seeing him bowl a ball and he turns to me at mid on and asks for feedback and I tell him it was well bowled and don’t get a smart-arse response back like usual because he’s got a real passion for the game.
Q. You’ve played with a lot of great cricketers, can you pick an XI of the best players you’ve played with?
Yeah, I’ve had a think about this one and made some tough decisions, I’ve gone with:
Jason Jacoby (Captain)
Steve Maddocks (Coach)
Joanne Radley (Scorer)
Tim ‘The Clock’ Loughry (Team Manager)
Q. Can you also pick an XI of the best players you’ve coached?
Ooh geez that’s tough, I’ll have to go with:
Q. Across your career who were your biggest influencers or mentors?
Number 1 is Steve Maddocks. He’s coaching that team of the best I’ve played with. He was magnificent, I just ran in off 7 or 9 steps and bowled little mediums when he started coaching me. He set me directions, told me they would take time, really sold them to me, put the time in and worked with me well. The other big standout is definitely my father. He was my personal chauffeur, my number 1 supporter, drove me everywhere when I was underage, both my parents in fact were big supporters but dad in particular. There was also Shaun Graf, he was my first coach at Premier Cricket and really filled me with strong values and the need for a hard work ethic.
Q. Looking back on your career is there anything you’d do differently?
Probably a bit less social activity. I didn’t always prepare the best, Friday nights out were like a pre game ritual and I had a tendency to take things too far and that could affect me the next day. I would also love to know back then what I know today, regarding specific training and what parts of your body you need to strengthen and develop. I just wasn’t quick enough to take my game to first class level, and I trained harder and harder as opposed to smarter. I would also try and bowl too fast and I wouldn’t get faster I would just swing the ball less and become even less effective. I’d get to the Christmas break, get drunk for five days at the boxing day test, forget about training then get back more relaxed and wouldn’t be trying to bowl too fast and I’d swing the ball more and take more wickets.
Q. What is your proudest moment as a cricketer?
I don’t know really, I suppose the whole way I went about things. I played in reasonable spirits but I could be a grumpy fast bowler at times. My sledging wasn’t great, so I never got too personal or offensive and I was always the first to invite the opposition into our rooms or head into their rooms and have a beer and chat about the game.