‘Deano’ as he was commonly known as in cricket circles was one of the most fascinating cricketers to represent Australia
The whole cricket fraternity was shocked on learning about the sudden death of former Australian Test cricketer Dean Jones who suffered a fatal heart attack at a relatively young age of 59.
‘Deano’ as he was commonly known as in cricket circles was one of the most fascinating cricketers to represent Australia, but it was his second innings where he made more friends than foes, that too around the world.
He was loved wherever he went, respected whichever country he was in and his voice of reasoning made his Twitter account a must-follow on Social media.
The News on Sunday summarises his career as a batsman, commentator, coach, and a well-wisher of Pakistan Cricket, who as head coach of Karachi Kings helped the side to their best season in Pakistan Super League this year.
Deano as a batsman
Those who grew up watching cricket on TV consider Sir Vivian Richards as the original master blaster, but Dean Jones wasn’t far behind. Like Sir Viv, he used to bat with a devil-may-care attitude when on the crease, and while off it started the trend of wearing sunglasses, something that is followed to this day. Dean Jones represented Australia for over a decade, played 164 ODIs, scored over 6000 runs at an average of nearly 45 with the help of 7 hundreds and 46 fifties, and was an integral part of the first Australian side that won the World Cup in 1987.
He is also remembered for his double-century in Chennai, where he battled home bowlers in the scorching conditions and scored a courageous 210, helping Australia to a famous tie against India.
Although he averaged more in Tests (3631 runs at 47 in 52 Tests, with the help of 11 hundreds and 14 fifties) he lost his place to younger batsmen in the 1990s who were more suited to the five-day game than him.
Fans of the game, however, would remember him for a long time for something that he did unnecessarily, unintentionally, and needlessly. During the first of the two World Series Finals in 1993, he asked West Indian pacer Curtly Ambrose to remove his ‘white’ wristband, and what happened next is part of Cricket folklore. Not only did the ‘request’ unleash the demon inside the gentle giant, Ambrose was at his fiery worst decimating the former World Champions like minnows!
Deano as a commentator
After his retirement from all forms of cricket in the late 1990s, Dean Jones carved a successful career in cricket commentary. He made a lot of friends with his tongue in cheek comments and entertained the audience all around the world, but even here, one mistake made him regret his actions for a long time. It so happened during a series between Sri Lanka and South Africa in 2006, he referred to Hashim Amla as “the terrorist”, and although he wasn’t commentating at that time, his remark somehow was picked up by the microphone. Not only was he immediately sacked from the commentary team, but he was also asked to issue a statement of regret soon after. After this incident, he returned to the commentary box but was more reserved than his usual casual self.
Deano as a coach
Gone was the casual Deano when it came to coaching where he broke the trend of wearing the team’s jersey by donning the two-piece suit. For four years, he was the head coach of Islamabad United (they reached the final on two occasions, winning both times), whereas in the fifth year switched to Karachi Kings, and it was under his guidance that the hopeless team became one of the contenders for the trophy. And then there was his memorable press conference where he was unable to resist his tears while praising Asif Ali who was caring for his critically ill daughter and winning matches for his side!
Deano as a well wisher of Pakistan cricket
At a time when no foreign commentator was willing to visit Pakistan for international matches due to the security situation, Dean Jones not only visited the country but convinced his fellow foreigners as well. In fact, in one of his last tweets regarding Pakistan, he indicated that all of the overseas and local players of Karachi Kings will be available for the remaining PSL matches to be held in November this year. He was also amongst the frontrunners for the position of Pakistan team’s head coach, a role that eventually went to an inexperienced Misbah-ul-Haq, prompting Deano to express his disappointment on Social Media. Had Dean Jones become the head coach of Pakistan’s national side, things would have been on another level for the Greenshirts, for sure!
Omair Alavi ([email protected]) is a freelance broadcast journalist