Childhood hero to colleague: Deano was the player you wanted to be
Dean Jones, the Australian cricketer turned commentator died of cardiac arrest last week at the age of 59 in the middle of his commenting stint at the ongoing Indian Premier League. Jones may not go down in history as one of the world’s greatest cricketers. But as this obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald suggests he will be remembered for being fiercely independent in thought, words and action and as the author notes “his willingness to take on the establishment”. As a cricketer he went against the grain of his era by bringing in an attacking style of play whether it is charging down the track to the world’s fastest bowlers or running between the wickets. He ended up with an ODI average of 45 which is still good by any standards but exceptional amongst his generation (only the great Viv Richards had a better average than that). As a commentator, he is not known to pull his punches either. Even when he made blunders like the time he referred to Hashim Amla as a terrorist or instigated Curtly Ambrose to unleash his fury on the Aussies, he was prompt to acknowledge his error of judgement. The author starts with that familiar anxiety we all experience whilst watching our heroes in action. The piece is the author’s fond remembrance of his hero who he ended up knowing up close and personal as a colleague when Jones took a career in media post retirement.
“Of my 33 years following the game, Deano is the only player I was anxious watching, so keen was I for him to have success.
This feeling would not subside until I felt he had reached a decent score. It was the wrong sport to have such an approach. As Rahul Dravid once said: “In cricket you fail a lot more than you succeed. In batting, in general, you fail a lot more.”
…the signature innings of Deano’s career – in the tied Test in Madras, now known as Chennai, when he braved oppressive heat and humidity to hit an epic double century…
When former opener Matthew Renshaw had to leave the field while batting due to an upset stomach in the 2017 tour of India, Deano did not approve. “Vomit like I did!” he quipped in a message to me.
He was among the first to support me after I wrote a piece outlining why the term “chinaman” should be taken out of the game.
A cricket jet-setter, you could never be sure which part of the world he was in when you called. Deano loved chatting about all things on the game: techniques, backroom politics and of course selection.
His forthrightness and willingness to take on the establishment were the cornerstones of his must-read Saturday columns”