Dean Jones 1961-2020: A forthright cricketer with a true love for the game
Dubai: Former Australia batsman Dean Jones, who had once predicted in an interview to Gulf News over a decade ago that the Indian Premier League (IPL) will go on to become the biggest Asian event, passed away on Thursday in Mumbai following a massive heart attack before commentating on the Indian Premier League match between Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Jones, 59, who is part of the Star Sports commentary team for the IPL, has been a regular visitor to the UAE, not only as a commentator but also as head coach of the Pakistan Super League’s Islamabad United team and Pakhtoons team in the T10 League. Jones was also among the T10 cricket league commentators and used to be always in the press box with journalists during breaks. Jones had joined the Karachi Kings this season had earlier won the PSL twice for Islamabad including the inaugural edition of the league as coach.
On September 18 this year, it was the 36th anniversary of one of his greatest knocks in Test cricket when he cracked 210 runs in the Chennai Test against India which ended in a historic tie.
Known as ‘Prof Deano’, Jones loved to present himself as a teacher after his playing days, be it while through his opinionated commentating or in the role of coach. When Jones addressed a media conference, it very often resembled a professor explaining the match.
As a coach, he always carried a red-coloured book. Once when Gulf News had asked him about what was inside the red book, he jokingly remarked: “I chose a red colour to ensure that it is red for those who want to look into this book.” He did not like anyone touching that book and even players whom he coached were not allowed to have a look at it.
Jones was among the first to point out that Test cricket needs to be tweaked to play at night. He was known for his forthright views and in the process has upset a few, but he never held back his views to please anybody. He always responded to tweets from any of his followers, and just hours before his death he’d replied to a tweet from a fan who’d written that he was the most annoying commentator, and said: “Glad you are watching … just hit the cool mute button.”
He was a strong supporter of cricket in the UAE, and had once told Gulf News that “Test championships should be played at a neutral venue, such as Dubai, once every four years to decide on the best Test team”.
In his last tournament played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, the AustralAsia Cup in 1990, he cracked an unbeaten 117 to trounce Sri Lanka by 114 runs.
One of his finest remarks was to a query on how important it was to maintain a winning run. “Momentum is a big thing,” he said. “One should perform like a horse in a two-mile race. This is what they call in horse racing as a two-mile race. What we do in the first mile is not what matters but what we do in the last matters.”
That was Jones, a shrewd cricketer, an intelligent coach, and a forthright commentator.