In a year of grim tidings, the demise of Dean Jones at Mumbai on Thursday is the latest hammer-blow. Sport has lost an effervescent cricketing star, who made a smooth transition to the commentary box with his swagger and zest intact.
During his prime, the former Australian batsman was all energy and aggression. He exuded an aura in One Day Internationals (ODI), with shots that blended the conventional and the unorthodox while embellishing it with frenetic running between the wickets. Jones, Deano to his friends, was a sharp fielder too and he was part of the 1987 World Cup winning squad helmed by the indomitable Allan Border.
After a tearful Kim Hughes resigned and left the reins of a weakened Aussie unit to Border in 1984, the latter identified Jones as one of his vital cogs, who along with David Boon, Geoff Marsh, Steve Waugh and Craig McDermott, could revive Australia. Jones and ODIs shared an adrenaline-loaded bond but he is often remembered for his rousing 210 in the famous Tied Test at Chennai, Madras then, in 1986.
The enduring images of him batting relentlessly despite the southern metro’s searing heat, egged on by a ruthless Border, is the stuff of legend. Jones later admitted that he urinated in his pants, vomited on the turf, but soldiered on as his captain wanted him to stay at the wicket. The Test’s anniversary recently passed us by and just as those old pictures of Jones emerged, he now lies cold in Mumbai. Life’s myriad turns could not be starker!
After a decade of cricket for Australia, the Victorian embraced television, became a perennial fixture in commentary boxes, forged new friendships and was always eager to have a chat. He could be politically incorrect too and a ghastly word he used to describe South African great Hashim Amla, put Jones to pasture. He apologised profusely and reintegrated himself with the media bandwagon that tails the willow game.
At 59, he had many years of the good-talk and booming laughter left in him but his heart deemed otherwise and cricket is poorer.
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