Rob Jones made an almost immediate impact in Lancashire’s first team, scoring an unbeaten 106 in his third County Championship appearance in late 2016.
Warrington-born Jones, a Red Rose Academy and Scholarship graduate, was elevated from the middle order to open the batting in only his second appearance against Somerset due to illness to Luke Procter.
And he was not about to let the opportunity slip.
A patient 34 in a draw persuaded Ashley Giles to stick with him for the visit of eventual champions Middlesex to Emirates Old Trafford.
Jones went on to hit a determined unbeaten century, bringing up three figures with a six after helping the side recover from strife at 6-4.
His exuberant celebration earned him the club’s Champagne Moment of the Season award. But, more importantly, the Red Rose secured a draw which went a long way to sealing their Division One safety.
Since making his debut, Jones has maintained his place in the Red Rose line-up, particularly in First-Class cricket, and was an ever-present in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two win. He started with a century at Lord’s, his second in First-Class cricket, and finished the season with 624 runs, many of which came in fine partnerships along with captain Dane Vilas.
It earned the right-hander an extended contract until the end of the 2021 season, with Glen Chapple putting his faith in Jones to continue to show the progress which has made him a focal point of the middle order.
Jones, a former England Under 19s international, is predominantly a batsman, but he also bowls occasional leg-spin.
He played Under 13s, 14s, 15s and 17s cricket for Cheshire, while joining the Lancashire ranks in 2012 when he played for the Academy.
He was part of England’s Under 19s World Cup campaign in the UAE in early 2014, reaching the semi-final stage with them.
Jones scored second-team centuries against Warwickshire and Scotland A in 2015 before a series of solid contributions through the early stages of 2016 led to his first-team call for a Championship match against Surrey at the Oval in late August.
After that aforementioned Middlesex century, Jones would have hoped for more Championship cricket in 2017 than his five appearances, although he did captain the second team in their successful Championship final win over Hampshire on the Isle of Wight in September.
He contributed a superb 775 runs from nine appearances to that campaign, including four fifties and three hundreds, starting with successive hundreds against Derbyshire and Northants.