Dean Jones was a remarkable batsman, even though this new generation will know him for his commentary. In fact, one of his last Twitter exchanges was a gentleman who called him the most ‘annoying commentator’.
The Australian had jokingly asked him to hit the mute button. Dean Jones was popular with a breed of cricket watchers who liked their commentary refined, as opposed to what’s known as the ANZ style of ANZ commentary – Australian and New Zealand banter, which a colleague says refers to a backslapping style of sun and sands banter.
Professor Deano as he was famously known by his fans was a voice of cricket for a generation. Unlike other commentators drawn to the glitz of Indian cricket, Deano was a true lover of the sub-continent and could speak passable Hindi.
He was the head coach of Islamabad United for two stints, winning the PSL in 2016 and 2018. He coached Karachi Kings in 2019 and was appointed interim head coach of ACB.
However, before he Prof Deano, the sagacious voice on TV he was Dean Jones – one-day maestro.
He scored 6,068 runs in 165 matches at 44.61 and a strike rate of 72.56 which was quite high for his times. He played West Indies 41 times when the Caribbean side was the meanest in the land. He played a fine innings against India in the 1987 World Cup, and calls winning the World Cup in Eden Gardens the biggest moment of his career.
He was also an extremely capable Test player. Cricket historian Arunabha Sengupta had noted how Jones played a historic double century in Madras.
Sengupta writes: “In just his third Test, he was dangerously dehydrated. With the sun blazing down with intense ferocity at Madras, he retched on the pitch. He wanted to go off, with retired ill against his name. The batsman at the other end was the hard-nosed Aussie legend, captain Allan Border. “If you can’t handle the situation, let’s get in a real Australian. Let’s get a Queenslander out here.”
Jones, Sengupta noted didn’t go off but batted for 8 hours and 22 minutes to score 210 under the blistering sun to earn his place underneath it. It was the second tie in cricket history.
He ended up playing 52 Tests, scoring 3,631 runs at 46.55 with 11 centuries. His first-class career was nothing to scoff at either with 19,188 runs including 55 centuries and 88 half-centuries, a high-score of 324 and an average of 51.85.
His only blip as a commentator came when he jokingly labelled Hashim Amla a terrorist. He lost his Ten Sports contract for that and profusely apologises, an apology that was accepted by Amla. It was an off-the-collar remark which certainly shouldn’t used to remember a man who was a great fan of cricket.