Almanac (Cricket) Obituary: Dean Jones – my cricket hero.

 

 

Source: Luke’s childhood scrapbook

 

 

Dean Jones was my first cricketing hero. Our first heroes are always the best heroes. I would nervously watch him start an innings, revel in his success, be distraught at his failures. His passing has hit me – and many, many more in the cricket world – like a ton of bricks.

 

Thursday night was not the first time I’d shed a tear over Deano. His tearful international retirement press conference from South Africa in 1994 elicited the waterworks from this fourteen year old watching from the rural part of Jones’ home state of Victoria. While there would be many more runs to flow from his Kookaburra blade, sadly none of them came in Australian colours.

 

The 1986/87 season was the first summer I can clearly remember watching cricket on the TV. Jones had a very good Ashes series, culminating in an unbeaten 184 in the SCG Test, an innings I sat glued to the TV watching. I was hooked on the game from this point on and now had a hero to follow. Even better was the fact he was a Victorian.

 

 

Some Deano memorabilia

 

 

The next couple of seasons saw my idol set new levels in the one day game, while having plenty of ups and downs at Test level. Hadlee had it all over him with the red ball and there were struggles against the Windies, though excellent moments too, like his epic 216 against Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh at the Adelaide Oval. He became a World Cup winner in 1987 though sadly, and unbelievably in this day and age, the coverage was minimal on TV.

 

The 1989 Ashes tour was where this cricket fan turned into cricket tragic. I was allowed to stay on the fold-out sofa in the lounge while the Tests were on. Australia played fabulously. The exploits of Alderman, Taylor and S. Waugh are well-remembered but D.M. Jones was a fantastic contributor too, a wonderful 157 at Edgbaston, 122 at The Oval, 566 runs at 70.75.

 

The 1989/90 season was the peak of Deano’s international career. For a brief moment in time he was arguably the finest batsman in the world in both forms of the game. Twin tons in the Adelaide Test against a Pakistani attack featuring Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed. Dominating the ODI format. It felt like he would make runs every time he went out to bat. I attended my first game of international cricket that summer. Jones received a massive Victorian welcome as he walked out to face the Pakistan attack in the Day/Night game at the MCG. Sadly, that night saw a rare failure in an otherwise golden summer, bowled by Aaqib Javed for 2. International runs at the MCG were often harder to come by for the Victorian star.

 

 

 

 

By this stage, my wall was filling with posters, Deano prominent among them. I started two cricket scrapbooks, one for Deano and one for everyone else. I rode his every high and every low. He had a knack for unusual dismissals and controversy seemed to follow him. Stumped by Jack Russell from the bowling of Gladstone Small. Run out while walking off after being bowled from a no-ball in the Caribbean. An average home Test series in 1991/92 against India had me worried about his spot. Especially after a first innings failure in the Fifth Test in Perth. He went out, took two of the best slips catches you will ever see and made 150 not out in the second dig. It was to be his last Test match on home soil.

 

 

The Deano scrapbook

 

 

I can still remember the sinking feeling when I asked permission at school to watch the start of the 1st Test of the 1992/93 summer during recess. The first thing I saw was the Australian team. Deano was twelfth man! How could this be? He’d just topped the averages on the recent tour of Sri Lanka. I was fuming. His Test career was over then and there. Secretly, I wasn’t unhappy that the Windies went on to win that series 2-1 in the absence of my hero.

 

After missing selection for the 1993 Ashes tour, somehow there was no room for Jones in the ODI team at the start of the following summer. But weight of runs saw him return for the second half of the 1993/94 World Series Cup. You better believe I sat on the couch and cheered every one of his 98 runs on his return against South Africa at the Gabba. Such an anti-climax when he missed a straight one from innocuous Protea offie Dave Rundle. But he was back! More runs in the finals. Selection on the South African tour in both the Test and ODI squads. Where it all ended.

 

 

 

Deano and AB at the Dean Jones tribute match

 

 

Jones took out his rage on Shield bowlers from every state in the following seasons. Totally dominating. A few of us skipped school to attend his tribute match. A couple of Jones sixes landed near our spot in the Southern Stand. While the school yard was becoming proliferated with NBA caps, I proudly wore my ‘Deano’ cap purchased at that tribute game until it was well faded. I’m wearing it as I type this.

 

 

 

 

His plundering of runs at state level, including 324 not out in a day/night Sheffield Shield game, lead to calls of a return to the ODI team ahead of the 1996 World Cup. He got an audition for Australia A in a televised game against the Windies. He looked good in a brief stay until undone by a questionable LBW decision. Australia went on to lose that World Cup final with a batting line up containing some players far less adept at the one day game, the captain included.

 

Shortly after that World Cup final Jones played against Australia for a World XI at the MCG. His farewell to the international stage saw him make a magnificent ton against the Aussies, much to the delight of his home crowd. While the World XI lost, the paper the next day contained a wonderful headline.

 

 

 

 

Deano captained Derbyshire in the County Championship, taking them to second in 1996 scoring 1338 runs for the season, while he played on with the Bushrangers until the end of the 1997/98 season. Personality clashes ended his stints at both teams, Jones pushed into retirement in May, 1998.

 

Jones became a well renowned coach and commentator in the years that followed right up until his death, though more so in the subcontinent than in Australia. Always forthright, always interesting, always passionate. These attributes made his columns in The Age great reading. Twitter was an ideal platform for him, his views and interaction with everyone and anyone on there made him an entertaining follow. An avid golfer, he loved talking about that sport every bit as much as cricket, and had a stint on the senior PGA Tour. Two Pakistani Super League T20 titles with Islamabad United show Australian cricket missed a big opportunity not having him coach in the Big Bash, his style, flair and media savvy would have helped invigorate a competition that has become stale in recent times, much in the same way David Hookes’ appointment as Victorian coach brought much focus to state cricket in the early 2000s.

 

 

 

 

I’m absolutely shattered at his passing. It hurts even more when you don’t see it coming. Numbers on players backs came in quite late in his career. When my club got coloured uniforms for Twenty20 cricket a couple of years ago, I made sure I got the number 14 worn by Deano for Victoria. I still have my large poster of Deano, rolled up and securely kept. I’d dreamt of getting it signed one day if an opportunity to meet the great man ever arose. But his memory will live on. A quick YouTube search and I can watch his 145 against England, his 100 for the World XI, his incredible running between wickets, his hitting, his footwork to spin, his rocket arm from the mid-wicket boundary.

 

Test cap 324, ODI cap 79. Deservedly inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2019. An enormous contribution to modern cricket. He will be greatly missed.

 

RIP Dean Mervyn Jones AM.

 

 

Read Andrew Else’s tribute to Dean Jones HERE
Read Mike Sexton’s account of Dean Jones’ famous Madras (Chennai) innings, from Border’s Battlers HERE
Read Sean Mortell’s tribute to Dean Jones HERE

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. A great tribute, Crackers. Thanks.

    A polarising figure for sure, but by all accounts he was extremely generous with his time and knowledge of the game.

    RIP Deano

  2. Great reflection Luke.

  3. A wonderful tribute to Dean Jones, Luke.
    I loved Deano’s work when he was piling on runs for Australia in both formats of the game, but not so when he was plundering Western Australian bowling attacks in the Sheffield Shield arena.
    I’m infatuated by numbers and found it very quirky that his highest Shield score (324) was the same as his Baggy Green cap number.
    I wondered if Deano declared Victoria’s innings in that February 1995 MCG Shield game against South Australia for that very reason.

  4. Absolutely outstanding personal tribute to your -and our – hero, Dean Jones. Your personal voice comes through your words so clearly so evocatively that we can feel your emotions. Love the scrapbook photos. You’re a gifted writer, Luke, something we are all grateful of. You should find a way to send this to Jane and her daughters. I think the Jones’ family would love to see this. TC

  5. There’s a lot of love in this piece. Thanks for publishing it.

    It’s a sad and sobering moment.

    In Queensland, Dean Jones was seen as the quintessential Victorian sportsman. Fiercely competitive. Arrogant. Cocky. All those adjective which emerge out of parochialism!

    What a competitor!

    Vale Dean Jones.

  6. Fantastic tribute,Luke I have been fortunate to do quite a few coaching clinics with,Deano he was extremely passionate about the game and chat like us about cricket till the cows came home.Deano was polarizing yes he loved to talk about himself and I’m sure the clique ness of the game cost him many games of playing for our country as you said insane non selection cost us dearly in that World Cup.Incredible that my favorite dismissal was Deano run out by David Hookes at Adelaide oval in a Shield game,Deano was batting out of his crease to Andrew Zesers,Hookesey instructed him to bowl a wide,Hookesey had turned side on took the ball and threw the stumps down incredible that two innovative out of the square thinkers similar in nature have both departed way to soon

  7. Luke.
    His passing is extremely sad.
    I used to watch every ball when Jones was batting. He had flair. Charisma. He was compelling to watch.
    He should’ve played more Test cricket.
    I’m sure we would’ve beaten the Windies in 1991-92 with Jones in the team.
    59 is too young.
    But legends never die!

  8. Outstanding tribute Luke. Love your passion.
    After Yallop, Jonesy seemed to be the only Vic in contention for national duties for a fair chunk of the 80s. Merv didn’t consolidate his spot until 88/89. There may have been a few others who came and went SOD, Dodders, etc. but Jones was the sole Vic in that team for many years. Hence the love.
    How a player could top the averages during a tough tour of Sri Lanka in ’92 and then be demoted for the first test of the 92/93 summer was hard to fathom. Why did he tour Sri Lanka to begin with, if he was deemed as too risky to play against the Windies that summer? Lots or rumours swirled around at the time. The Waugh brothers, Martyn and later Langer were preferred – on form they should’t have been. Jones should have at least been given the first 2 or 3 tests to prove himself. I recall Lillee calling for Deano’s head before the series, and then Roebuck wrote a sanctimonious article about how Deano’s record in “dead rubbers” inflated his overall test record. Strange. It seemed like there was a movement to get rid of him. I think he was denied a good 25-30 test in the baggy green.
    He then made a mountain of runs and forced his way back into the test squad for that ’94 tour of SAF – he probably should have played a test when I think Tubby was injured. They could have moved Boon to opener from first drop and played Jones at 3, but alas they went with debutant Hayden to partner Slater (how Slater was selected ahead of Hayden in ’93 I will never understand). That’s when Deano cracked it at the hierarchy. Cards were marked after that.

  9. Thank you Luke for sharing your childhood scrapbook with us.
    What a thing is a childhood hero.

    Take care.
    I think of young Luke and all of the young Lukes.
    And of the family and friends of DM Jones.

    Yours is a magnificent tribute.

  10. As you say, Luke, “It hurts even more when you don’t see it coming.” Apart from the overwhelming feelings of emotion when death occurs, it just confirms (to me) that we must appreciate just what we have at the moment, and show our love and appreciation to all while still alive. Sad, indeed! Take care. Jan

  11. Love the scrapbook clippings. Grand mementoes of your hero. Deano for you is what Ian Chappell was for me. Charismatic. Defiant. Didn’t know he was that good a golfer as to play on Senior PGA Tour in Oz. That’s top 50 in the country excellence in your age range.
    Better to flame out than to fade away?

  12. Excellent Luke. Wonderful tribute. Usually I shun arrogance but there was something about Deano that always got my attention. I always found myself barracking for him. And I found his commentary and cricket articles thoughtful and forceful. Like his cricket. Couldn’t help thinking that he had more in the tank. He fought the establishment and the establishment won.

    Someone said that he hard a huge desire to be liked. Isn’t that true of everyone?

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks for all the comments. It’s still a massive shock, but the one good thing to come out of it all is the focus on his wonderful career. There’s quite a few wonderful tributes out there, including on the Almanac. So fortunate that so much of his career was captured and is accessible on YouTube.

    Matt and PB- both of your final lines are superb.

  14. I remember reading that Deano once commented that there were days when he went out to bat and just knew he was better than the bowling. Not necessarily arrogance but a statement of fact! And what a treat this was. Saw this more than a few times at Adelaide Oval, especially in 1980’s one-dayers.

    Great personal tribute Luke. Thanks.

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