Cricket

Geraint Jones ready for Lord's swansong in Royal London Cup final

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Geraint Jones will be centre stage at Lord's in a 2015 Royal London Cup final which promises a memorable clash between young and old, the great and the very good.

Jones is out to do himself proud in his final professional outing, as he and Gloucestershire try to roll back the years.

Up against them for Surrey at the Home of Cricket will be the peerless Kumar Sangakkara and - at the other end of the age scale - Curran brothers Tom and Sam, of whom so much is expected in the long term, not just for club but country too.

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If either excels, many will doubtless trumpet the first signs of bigger and better things to come from the sons of the late Kevin, formerly of Gloucestershire as well as Northamptonshire.

Twenty-year-old Tom and Sam, 17 - both bowling all-rounders, at this stage - have done enough already in little more than a handful of first-class and List A matches each to demonstrate rich potential.

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Jones, almost twice the elder Curran's age, decided mid-season at the start of his 40th year that - after an outstanding career primarily as Kent and England wicketkeeper-batsman - he would not play beyond this summer with Gloucestershire.

If the 2005 Ashes-winner achieves a glorious farewell, and helps his club revisit the wonderful knack that brought them six Lord's final victories in five years between 1999 and 2004, his will be the most heart-warming tale.

Come what may, it is at least bound to start well in the field for him - because captain Michael Klinger will let Jones lead the team out.

"Michael gave me a call just to say he wanted me to do it - and it really meant a lot," said Jones.

"My last game at Lord's, it will be great. (But) I did say to him, it will be even better to walk off having won the game.

"It's a lovely gesture."

Jones no longer takes the gloves, having handed that responsibility to Gareth Roderick, and his move up the order worked a treat with three 50s in four innings through the group stages of the competition.

Inevitable echoes have been everywhere this anniversary Ashes summer of his greatest moments back in 2005 - but they have not put him off his game.

He said: "There's definitely been a heightened awareness, with all the reunions planned, and then things like it being the same day I took that catch at Edgbaston.

"But it has never distracted me at all.

"They are all great memories, and I must admit whenever I get to The Oval it brings back some great moments from that last day there."

Among Jones' highest-profile opponents will be Sangakkara, out to cap a wonderful summer - which has included his Test retirement as the all-time fifth-highest runscorer in cricket history.

He has also helped Surrey not just to this final but to the verge of the LV= County Championship Division Two title.

As they eye a notable double, without the injured Zafar Ansari - one significant absence from two otherwise largely full-strength teams - the Londoners can rely on Sangakkara's experience, and hope for some of his brilliance.

The Sri Lankan told kiaoval.com: "It's going to be a very, very special day.

"The key for us is to enjoy it, forget it's a final, forget it's Lord's, not to get overawed or overwhelmed ... to really appreciate what's brought us there, and be able to repeat it."

Sangakkara is universally respected and admired but on this occasion, it is perhaps Jones who will be willed on most by the neutrals.

He knows there will be cheers to the HQ rafters if he can help bring back those Gloucester glory days.

Jones added: "It is massive for the club.

"They were so used to success in white-ball cricket - and the last few years, they have struggled.

"This is a really young side, and a lot of these lads grew up watching Gloucestershire get to finals.

"The 50-over format, and the Lord's final, was the real pinnacle of the summer back then.

"Twenty20 has maybe changed that a little bit. But I'm hoping the magic will still be there at the Home of Cricket."

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