Prof Deano was a good student
The late Dean Jones visited me in Sydney, where he discussed batting at No. 3 and anything else that would assist him in his career before his famous 1986-87 tour of India
Dean Jones's name will forever be linked with the South Indian city of Chennai.
Known as Madras in 1986, conditions were typically hot and humid when Jones amassed a double century of immense skill, will power and human endurance. This was the innings of a man with a big heart.
Unfortunately, that same heart failed the man affectionately known as Deano, when Jones died in Mumbai after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Jones's double-century in Madras contained everything a young man playing only his fifth Test innings would want. There was a wide range of shots, producing runs at an excellent strike rate and a score that guaranteed his place in the side for a good while to come.
Originally entrusted with the crucial No. 3 spot by skipper Allan Border, he was then goaded by Captain Grumpy when he asked to retire hurt because of exhaustion.
"We'll get a real Australian, a Queenslander [Greg Ritchie]," taunted Border, "if you're not up to the job."
Jones's request was justified when he was out not long after. He was immediately whisked off to hospital where he was put on a saline drip as his body threatened to shut down. That innings was to take on a greater level of importance when the Test finished in only the second tie in the game's history.
Jones will be remembered for many other exploits—another Test double century, a member of Australia's first World Cup winning side, asking Curtly Ambrose to remove his white wrist band [because it was the same colour as the ball] and a reputation as an innovative and successful ODI batsman—but nothing to quite match his Madras magnificence.
I was not altogether surprised by Jones's sudden rise to stardom in India following a slow start to his Test career. Before the tour he visited me in Sydney where he discussed batting at No. 3 and anything else that might assist him in his career. My impression? Any man prepared to pay his own airfare at a time when cricketers weren't well remunerated has the determination and dedication to succeed at international level.
This behaviour was not uncommon. During his career and in his life after cricket Deano eagerly sought information and used it to enhance other cricketers' performances.
He was widely respected in India not only for his heroic deeds in Madras but also for his commentating role as The Professor. Armed with a blackboard and wearing a robe and mortar board he would accentuate his theories by pointing with a cane.
His advice, especially on batting in ODI's, was regularly sought and Jones was happy to pass on his knowledge. This trait also saw him employed as a coach, often in areas where others feared to tread, like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This fearless approach is not surprising when you consider his upbringing. Dean was the son of Barney, a highly competitive Carlton club cricketer. Barney was rumoured to have helped place ice blocks on a good length the night before a semi-final where University were chasing victory.
Dean inherited Barney's competitive instincts and they were honed under the watchful eye of former Australian batsman Keith Stackpole. Jones arrived at Carlton as a precocious young lad with abundant energy and Stackpole remembers his enthusiasm. "He would chase everything in the field," recalls Stackpole, "and he always wanted to bowl his own way, usually short."
That was a hallmark of Jones's cricket—especially his one-day batting—he did things his own way. In doing so he finished with an excellent average and a particularly good strike rate for his era.
Sometimes his enthusiasm got the better of him, especially when he asked to have Ambrose's wrist band removed during a 1993 ODI. That was one of his few regrets; "It probably wasn't a wise idea," chuckled Jones, "seeing Curtly took 5-32."
Nevertheless, Jones had a lot of good ideas and that's how it all ended, expressing his opinions on television in Mumbai, not a million miles from Chennai.
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