Deano wore his scars

Updated: 01 October, 2020 07:45 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

For all his batting success, the late Jones was not always dealt a fair hand, especially when it came to the traditional form of the game.

The late Dean Jones looking out of the pavilion window at the Racecourse ground in Durham during his United Kingdom tour with Victoria state team in 1991. Pic/Getty Images
The late Dean Jones looking out of the pavilion window at the Racecourse ground in Durham during his United Kingdom tour with Victoria state team in 1991. Pic/Getty Images

Clayton MurzelloThe nasty wave of Dean Jones's one-week-old death refuses to stop stinging the cricket world.

The outpouring of grief, which has led to a flood of tributes and obituaries, stories and more stories, has made us realise that there was so much more to the cricketer and man than we thought we knew.

Indeed, the mural of Deano's tales seems to have used up walls of both sides of a large hall and now there's only the ceiling to exploit.

Prof Deano, a title he earned for his analysis, would have been an asset to any Indian Premier League team.

Jones either didn't make himself available to coach a side or was just not thought about. Before IPL came along, he was a board member of the Indian Cricket League.
Brains and radical ideas don't always lead to successful coaching paths in IPL town. Australia's 2003 and 2007 World Cup-winning coach John Buchanan did not enjoy similar success with Kolkata Knight Riders while the late Martin Crowe, who was Chief Cricket Officer for Royal Challengers Bangalore, exited the franchise a few months after they failed in the inaugural IPL.

Crowe and Jones, watched stars in the 1992 World Cup, are now exchanging notes in the great beyond.

In many ways, Jones showed the world how to bat in limited overs cricket no matter who the bowler was. And although Crowe wasn't in the playing XI for the final ODI of the Rothmans Cup in 1990, he would have remembered Jones cracking an unbeaten 102 to help Australia beat New Zealand with 10.5 overs to spare. Seven fours and five sixes came off his Kookaburra blade in just 91 balls against a Richard Hadlee-led attack, while chasing 163 for victory in Auckland. Australia's then coach Bob Simpson rated that 102 as the finest innings Jones played in one-day cricket.

"Everything fell into place — the class and the cheek, the cockiness and the culture, the mental superiority which allowed him to charge and then change his mind and play a dismissive defensive shot on the run. This was the Dean Jones to remember," wrote Simpson in the book, The Reasons Why.

A fine ODI innings which Simpson didn't see because he was on a break, was the 98 Jones scored against South Africa in Brisbane during the summer of 1993-94. In his Sunday Age column which Jones wrote in collaboration with leading cricket writer Mark Ray, he stressed that Simpson's absence opened up a more positive atmosphere with captain Allan Border allowing the batsmen to play their shots. A copy of the column, according to Ray, was faxed to Simpson, who reportedly threatened legal action against Jones. Matters didn't end up in court and the coach and star batsman went with the flow, respecting each other's expertise.

When I asked Jones about what he thought of the BCCI's decision to avail of Simpson's services as a consultant before the 1999 World Cup, he said he would "dot the I's and cross the T's for Indian cricket."

For all his success, Jones was not always dealt a fair hand, especially when it came to the traditional form of the game.

How many players in Test history have been dumped after averaging 55.20 in their last series? He averaged just that on the 1992 tour of Sri Lanka, where he scored a 100 in the second Test at Colombo.

As predicted in some circles, Jones got dropped from the Ashes 1993 squad after he was overlooked for the Test series against West Indies and New Zealand. Some felt Jones was sacrificed at the altar of youth.

Mark Waugh, whose last four innings on that same Sri Lanka tour were duck, duck, duck and duck, managed a place in the Ashes tour party after reviving his fortunes against the West Indies in 1992-93.

There was a storm when the 1993 squad was announced in April and the fact that Jones averaged nearly 47, which was more than several batsmen in that tour party, provided good fodder for his supporters to display their angst at Laurie Sawle's selection panel.

Former captain Kim Hughes was a Jones backer and he launched a venomous assault on the Australian system in 1992: "Jones was the victim of a mediocrity that had embraced the team...unless you conform to a 'one bag, two bags, three bags full sir' person, they won't pick you."

Jones went on to wear his country's colours again in ODI cricket but announced his retirement when he was dropped for the eighth ODI against South Africa at Bloemfontein in April 1994. He felt let down by the tour selectors skipper Border, Mark Taylor and David Boon.

Respected writer Peter McFarlane felt Jones was justified in feeling "extremely bitter" but that was "no good reason to retire." A little later, Jones offered to captain the Australia 'A' side because he was excited to work with young talent. But he was not given that opportunity.

Jones was an opportunist in a positive way. When he didn't make it in the 1993 Ashes squad, he accepted an offer to coach Durham's second XI. He did anything to extract a good performance and that included making the team angry and determined to succeed by wearing his Australia shirt for training every time Allan Border's tourists did well on that tour. This is what writer Patrick Smithers found out when he called Jones to check how he was doing in his English summer of mixed emotions — dejection from the Ashes snub — and joy over the Durham opportunity.

"There's life after death. To feel wanted is a good feeling. At least people can still use me," he told Smithers.

Life after Jones's death will be hard for his family, friends and fans. They'll take a while to dry themselves from that nasty wave which swallowed them last Thursday.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello

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First Published: 01 October, 2020 06:37 IST

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