Jones finally handed England cap, 50 years after sole appearance

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LONDON (Reuters) - It was a long wait but former Glamorgan batsman Alan Jones has finally got his hands on an England cap, 50 years to the day after his sole appearance.

Jones, now 81, appeared for England against the Rest of the World XI in 1970, but the fixture's status as an official test match was subsequently downgraded by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have decided to award cap number 696 -- the next available number, following Zak Crawley's debut in November 2019.

A virtual ceremony was held on Wednesday featuring ECB chairman Colin Graves, current England skipper Joe Root and former England captain Tony Lewis, Jones's county team mate.

"Alan's achievements on and off the cricket field are something to be celebrated, so I'm delighted that we can mark the 50th anniversary of his England appearance in this way," Graves said in a statement.

"While the record books may not show Alan as a capped international cricketer, the ECB wanted to recognise his England appearance and celebrate his remarkable career as a player, coach and administrator by awarding him England cap number 696."

Many will say its well-deserved.

Jones scored 36,049 runs in first class cricket, the most by a player not to play an official test match.

He was part of Glamorgan's title-winning side of 1969 and was named among Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year in 1978.

"I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen," Jones said. "I never expected it now because 50 years is a long time. Being England's number 696 will stay with me for ever now."

While a proud moment for Jones, he might not look back on his performance too fondly. He was dismissed for five and nought by South Africa seamer Mike Procter, both times caught behind by India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.

Root said Jones was now part of a "very special family".

"I hope it's not too long before we can welcome Alan to an England match to congratulate him in person," he said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)