VENUE: MCG: Match: India vs Australia (a league encounter in the World Championship of Cricket. 1985).
"He should be given a nice kick on his back," said Max Walker on Radio Australia as the young Dean Jones threw his wicket away chasing a wide one from Kapil Dev.
Venue: M. A. Chidambaram Stadium: Match: India vs Australia (First Test, 1986) Dean Jones plays a heroic innings enduring heat and exhaustion. From being a failure to becoming a success... it took Dean Jones just two seasons: Jones says: "That knock in Madras put me on the map as an international cricketer." It was a gruelling effort. There was much suffering and pain.
Now 33, Jones has announced his retirement after a distinguished intemational career. Yes, Jones is a trifle disappointed that he was discarded "out of turn." This, despite the fact that he was consistent in Tests and one-day internationals. "But I got out before they got me out," quips Jones.
"Maybe it's a sort of superannuation for me. I have been there for nearly a decade. There were the rebel tours to South Africa when I came in. Myself, David Boon and Geoff Marsh formed the 'Engine Room.' Perhaps I progressed to become an all-time great in one-day internationals along with Gordon Greenidge and Vivian Richards. Yes, I liked to play one-day internationals. It's a lot of fun. I could have caught up with "AB", but soon you realise he has played 120 internationals more than me."
What does Dean Jones' record show at the time of his retirement? 52 Tests, 3631 runs, 11 centuries, and 164 one-dayers, 6063 runs, seven centuries and 46 fifties. "I would swap all my one day internationals for another Test match. If they recall me for a Test. I will put my hands up," said Dean Jones. He was in Hyderabad recently for the six-nation six-a-side tournament.
Was your decision to quit a premature one?
Well. it's one of the biggest decisions of my life and it was not taken lightly. The public did not like it and there were a lot of sympathisers. I suppose I have always been brought up to play Test cricket... one-day cricket is a lot of fun. It generates a chance for the players to show their skills. Well, they dropped me for the last one-dayers (against South Africa) and I thought that was the last straw.
Particularly I thought it was not warranted... I had two bad decisions in the last three innings and they still dropped me. There were a few guys who were playing in the side whose records are nowhere near mine. So I thought the selectors are looking for new avenues. I have been one of the senior players in the Australian team for nine years. It's pretty hard just sitting around and playing the odd one-day game. You see, they did not pick me for the first half of the World Series at home and I did not play the Test matches (against South Africa). They selected me for the last half of the one-dayers at home and I did very well. I topped the averages there and went to South Africa.
I told my wife during the tour that I may retire from international cricket. I am still the captain of Victoria and I am captaining the world team against South Africa this August in the Scarborough Festival. So it's funny... I am picked to play for the world team, but not picked to play for Australia.
Would you say the selectors have denied you opportunities in spite of your impressive record?
Well, in the last eight Test innings I averaged about 85. So it's a bit hard to understand what's going on. But one has to understand the team balance as well... I don't have any hassles with the selectors. When you have two fast bowlers and two spinners. No. 5 and 6 batsmen have to bowl a bit. So they tend to go for the Waughs who bowl. That's where the team balance comes in.
Would you say you could have carried on for some more time?
I thought I could have... for three or four more years. I think it comes down to whether or not you want to continue. If you are going to train hard and do all those things, you can play as long as possible. I think my game is still very solid and I am still beating the young kids in running between wickets and chasing the ball to the boundaries. But I thought I got them before they got me.
It must have been a hard decision. Isn't it?
Well, it was a great situation... for the first time, five batsmen have scored 1000 runs in first-class cricket at home. There are a lot of kids waiting (for opportunities). If I am just going to play the odd one-day game or so I don't think it's of any value for me. I would rather help out Victoria and give something back to cricket. I have a responsibility to help the young kids come through. I think it's just the team balance which has put me out of the team. I thought I had my chances in South Africa when Mark Waugh had an injured thumb and it looked like he wasn't going to play the first Test at Jo'burg. They picked Matthew Hayden... now Hayden has never batted at. No. 5 in his entire life. He has always been an opening batsman. So they were just trying to get young kids in the team. My form until then in South Africa was very good.
Did you have a chat with Border before deciding to quit?
Well, he thought it was a bit premature. He said he's going to buy me a few beers to change my mind in the winter. Well, that's going to cost him a lot of beers. It will be good fun trying... We have been together for such a long time. He obviously thinks I still have a lot to offer to Australian cricket. But you play the game the way you wanted to play it. I always wanted to play Test cricket. Today's young kids want to play a lot of one-day cricket. I can't change.
You were in great form during the 1992 World Cup but in 1994 you were out of the team?
I don't know. I had a good series against India...I got 150 not out in the last Test then (1992). Then I went to Sri Lanka and did well there and topped the averages. When I went home I had two bad decisions in the State games. But I had come from a successful tour of Sri Lanka. But they did not pick me against the West Indies (1993). They picked Damien Martyn for me. I was the 12th man. I topped the averages in Sri Lanka and then I was the 12th man in the first Test against the West Indies. Then they did not consider me at all.
How would you assess your international career?
I would say that wherever I have gone in the world I have put people in the seats, if you like it. I am an aggressive player. I don't like to back off. I like to tease and torment the bowlers. Sometimes they get me and sometimes I get them. There have been a couple of high points in my career. World Cup 1987 was a fantastic period. India and Pakistan put up a beautiful show... and we won (laughs). And also the Ashes series I played.
But I think I really became a quality player during the 1986 tour of India. That innings at Madras put me on the map as an international cricketer. Also, it was a learning experience on turning wickets and different conditions. The sub-continent poses a lot of questions to you. You become more patient. The knock at Madras was probably one of the great things that happened in my career.
My first ever Test innings...! would rate as the best. It was a wet wicket at Trinidad. The wicket was like a devil and Garner and Marshall were at you. To me it was frightening and I got through. Your first Test is always a big thing and I will never forget it. I thought I played very well on that wicket to make 40 plus runs.
Shane Warne's rise must be the best thing to happen in international cricket?
Isn't it great? People must have been fed up of watching fast bowlers running in from 30 yards. And this kid comes on... and your leg spinner, Kumble. Warne has got everything in him and suddenly people ask, "Oh... is this the wrong 'un"... "Is this the flipper." It's really exciting... such players should be looked after. These are special people.
Which bowler was the most demanding?
Joel Gamer... always a big worry. Kapil Dev is fantastic to play against. With the new ball, I could not separate Garner, Dev and Richard Hadlee. Thank God, I did not face Imran Khan... but Wasim and Waqar, yes... they do a lot with the old ball. A lot of people say they scratch the ball and all that. But I still feel they must have unbelievable ability to be able to bowl like that even if they do something. They are tremendously talented boys, I get on very well with them.. thank God. They are fantastic bowlers.
What is it like playing the West Indians?
Physical toughness is what counts when you are playing against the Windies. If you are going to make a hundred...! think Sunny Gavaskar has scored the most....you are going to be hit two or three times on the body...fingers or the elbows or somewhere. And you just hope it doesn't break. Make sure you are wearing the right equipment...like pads and all that. I think to me the ultimate is putting it all together and making a 200 against the West Indies. If the wives are not happy at home, the team doesn't play well.
(This interview was first published in the Sportstar Magazine on May 28, 1994).
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