Cricketer and commentator, Jones enjoyed best of both worlds

By Prakash Bhandari

 A successful cricketer in the past would fade away giving his place to the new genre. There were not many opportunities post-retirement for a celebrity cricketer to remain in touch with the game. The best one could do post-retirement was to take up coaching which is a very sought after profession now. Dean Jones, 59 who passed away while on an assignment with the IPL in Mumbai was one cricketer, who enjoyed the best of both the world.

Deano for the past two decades established himself as a cricket commentator and also a new public image. Jones would describe the nuances of the ongoing game with alacrity and honesty of words. He impressed and entertained with his array of strokes holding a bat, but when he held the microphone he described the game with the same vitality,

“Deano” Jones was a cricketer known for his many feats and in Australia, he enjoyed tremendous respect and popularity first as a cricketer and then as a commentator.

“Deano” was brash and aggressive when he used to play, but he had to pay a very heavy price when in 2006, he described the South African cricketer Hashim Amla, who was of an Indian origin as a terrorist. There was a protest over this remark, like the one faced by Sunil Gavaskar currently. Jones was sacked as Ten Sports commentator. He was out for some time but was back, wielding the microphone with his characteristic analysis.

Once during an Ashes series, Dean Jones hoisted a ball high and that ball was heading towards the commentator’s box. Great Richie Benaud and Geoffery Boycott were in the box. The ball almost hit the commentator box as the ball was still in the flight, Benaud yelled: “Geoff hold it”. The ball struck the commentator box and fell down. It was a scene that was described live by Benaud.

The 1986 tied Test between India and Australia in Chennai, transformed the careers of players on both sides.

Dean Jones’s double-century is remembered by many as one of the most courageous ever played.

With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius and with 80 per cent humidity, Jones batted for over eight hours to score 210 in Australia’s first innings of 7-574.

Jones was a good Test cricketer but considered a master of the one-day format.

“I don’t know the reason why he didn’t play any more than that. On his day, he was as good as anybody in world cricket, definitely,” said Steve Waugh.

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