Almanac (Cricket) Obituary: RIP Dean Jones – the player we wanted to be




For a kid growing up in Melbourne in the `90s with minimal cricket ability, even less swagger, and an obsession with one day cricket, Dean Jones was THE player.


There was the zinc on the bottom lip that he always managed to apply perfectly, yet when I attempted it, it just became a dribbly mess placed halfway to my chin


There were the wraparound Oakleys which he wore in the field, which, remarkably, was renegade behavior at the time. (If Kane Cornes had’ve been able to make a living back then, he would’ve done a week’s worth of shows on it). These were the sunnies I always wanted, couldn’t afford, and then when we got a cheaper version, made my head look tiny anyway.


There was the outfield slide into the concrete boundary fence (not rope) that was always accompanied by a booming throw that arrived just over the stumps (not ‘bounced in’ to scuff up the ball). I once needed stitches in my knee after attempting such things on a bone-dry primary school ‘outfield’.


There were the sky-scraping sixes (that had to land in the crowd to be scored as such) which I always attempted in the backyard, only to be brought undone by Dad’s yorker, leading to the ‘death clang’ on the steel stumps.


There was his post-retirement book, My Call, which I read multiple times, which detailed his double hundred in Chennai and the physical toll it took – he vomited pitch-side and urinated in his pants on multiple occasions. This led to him suggesting to his batting partner and captain, Allan Border, that he should retire hurt, only for AB to say that would be fine, and they could get a real Australian, a Queenslander out to bat. ‘Stick it up your arse AB’ Jones said. What a man. What a Victorian.


There is bitter irony in Deano tragically passing while Victoria is separated from the rest of the country via lockdowns. Along with Merv Hughes, Deano was an MCG lightning rod and played a stuffy English game like an AFL player, with long bombs via bat and arm and running between the wickets that seemed to get quicker as the roar of the crowd got louder, turning a two into a three as we all knew he would. In later years, well after he’d retired, Jones appeared on the TV in our Carlton share house and me and the second housemate yelled ‘DEANO!’ To which our third housemate, a proud South Australian, just grumbled, ‘you blokes and your Deanos….’


And while, yes, we did cling onto a possible comeback for a few years, it’s not like he hadn’t delivered at the crease. His 145 vs England at the Gabba is as good  as it was then, and not just for the fact that now I’m watching through an adult’s eyes, I can see how just how many drunk people were in the crowd, and his 98 v South Africa on the same ground in 1994, which did represent a comeback of sorts at the time, and I recall listening to on a family holiday at Swan Hill, was as bold as the lightning bolts on the Aussie kit.

It’s remarkable to think of Deano’s heyday and this era of cricket as 30-40 years ago, as when we were kids watching those games and hearing the commentators talk of the `50s and `60s, it may as well have been from another century. As confronting as 2020 has been, the passage of time and reflections borne of a hero’s passing illuminate the difference between what you do and who you are now and what you did and who you wanted to be back then.


Following Deano’s era of cricket involved watching the two live TV hours of the Melbourne day-nighter, before having to rely on the radio for the rest of the match and then setting the VCR for the one hour highlights which usually rolled through post-midnight. You could then read about it in the paper next day, but the world moved on quickly and you were left hanging for the next game. Our kids are still a bit young now, but in a few years they could watch every minute on their iPad if they desired and frankly it’s hard to see how they’ll ever be left hanging out for anything. I do wonder who my son and daughter’s ‘Deanos’ will be. One positive development is that my daughter can see females play cricket at a packed MCG too.


But at 59, it’s just too soon for him to tuck the bat under the arm. I grew to follow his columns in The Age and then his thoughts on Twitter and it’s no surprise to hear of his colleagues talk of him as a thoughtful and generous man. I’m not sure if he still has his property in Romsey, an hour north of Melbourne, but when we visited Grandmas in Lancefield, the next town along, you’d always hear stories from locals of him ‘in the town’ and I’d hope to see him on the golf course or at the newsagent where the signed copies of My Call were on the counter.


To think he’s a legend to the people of Romsey, of suburban Melbourne kids of the `90s, of Islamabad, where he recently coached, and throughout India and beyond is a measure of a life clearly spent trying to turn a two into a three.


RIP Deano.


More from Andrew Else HERE


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About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Well said, Andrew, ditto to all the above. Deano was an exciting player from another era, a bit of a renegade, a bloke who liked to thrill the crowd. His 210 in Chennai, 145 in Brisbane, the 1989 Ashes series in England, the run-in with Big Curtley, dynamic fielding… My favourite memory was from Bellerive Oval in a Shield match on a cold December day in 1996. My son and I had light blankets around us to keep warm. Dean was batting and went to lunch after a promising start. About 10 minutes before the resumption for the afternoon session, Jones clattered down the race, fully padded up, sat on the bleachers in front of the grandstand, then spent 10 minutes signing autographs for a very willing throng of kids (and not a few adults). No-one missed out. A wonderful gesture! Returning to the crease, he peeled off an effortless, exquisite, sparking century with shots all around the wicket, complemented by his lightning speed between the wickets. It was a masterclass in batting and made the bowling attack look like parkland fodder. I like to think Deano played the game the way it was meant to be played. RIP, Dean Jones, and thanks for the memories.

  2. “To think he’s a legend to the people of Romsey, of suburban Melbourne kids of the `90s, of Islamabad, where he recently coached, and throughout India and beyond is a measure of a life clearly spent trying to turn a two into a three.”

    Beautifully summed up. Deano was the first cricketer I can vividly remember taking the crease in green and gold, his later years as a fan favourite in South Asia and legacy as a favourite son of Victoria just built upon those magnificent innings decades ago. Vale.

  3. Wonderful summary of a terrific cricketer and a life well lived. Have vivid memories of Deano in 50 over games at Adelaide Ovals. His running between wickets and how much he challenged fielders was revolutionary. Straight hits over the scoreboard to the Moreton Bay figs near the scoreboard locked in the memory. As you say the game (games?) has become so commodified that I barely bother with daily scores when I used to hang on every ball. Died of a broken heart?

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Lovely tribute Andrew. What a player. My childhood hero too. I’m numb today.

    RIP Deano.

  5. Great tribute to Dean Jones, Andrew.

    RIP Deano

  6. echoed my sentiments. We all wanted to be like deano and we all wanted to bat with him. RIP mate, you gave back so much to the great game

  7. Thanks Andrew. What a shock.
    That 145 in Brisbane stands out. I was 15. Collingwood had just won the flag. Brilliant time to be alive.
    We taped the hour-long highlights show that night.
    And we watched the tape until it got the shudders and shakes.
    Knew all the lines: “That’ll end up in Coco’s!”
    “Just reach out and catch it, Geoffrey.”

    Sympathies and thoughts with family and friends of DM Jones.
    RIP Deano.

  8. I grew up watching Deano and share the other tributes.
    My sister and her family are neighbors of the Jones in Romsey and speak highly of Deano.I think he played a few games for the Romsey CC and is an avid golfer.
    My nephew was convinced that it might be worth asking the cricket legend who lived close by if he might be able to help him with his cricket. It was decided that a polite note be delivered to Deano so there was no perceived pressure. Deano responded with a copy of his book of cricket tips and said he’d love to assist.
    Dean’s wife later said to my sister that Dean was “tickled pink” to receive the request.

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