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Dean Mervyn Jones AM wrote the book on one-day cricket – literally. He played a new game in which he walked down the pitch to fast bowlers, ran frenetically between wickets and turned out fielding into an attacking occupation. He was a natural showman who was, for a while, as popular as any other player in Australia. Yet he was also a classic cricketer who once made a triple-century for Victoria and remains their record run-maker. He averaged 46 in Tests, and in the tied Test at Madras in 1986-87 played what Bob Simpson said was the greatest innings for Australia. At the end of his 210 he ended up in hospital on a saline drip. Is now a current coach and has also worked as a sports commentator.
Jones began his first class career in the 1981–82 season with Victoria in the Sheffield Shield. He was selected on the 1984 tour of the West Indies after Graham Yallop had to pull out due to injury. He was not picked in the original XI, but was drafted into the side after Steve Smith fell ill. Jones himself was very ill before the Test, and deemed his score of 48 on his debut as his “best knock”
Between 1984 and 1992, Jones played 52 Test matches for Australia, scoring 3,631 runs, including 11 centuries, at an average of 46.55.
His most notable innings was in only his third Test against India in the Tied Test in Chennai (Madras) in 1986. Suffering from dehydration in the oppressively hot and humid conditions, Jones was frequently vomiting on the pitch. He wanted to go off the field “retired ill” which led his captain Allan Border to say that if he could not handle the conditions, “then let’s get a real Australian” (Greg Ritchie, a Queenslander like Border, was the next man in to bat). This comment spurred Jones to score 210, an innings he considered a defining moment in his career and one of the epic Test innings in Australian cricket folklore.
Jones was one of Australia’s most successful batsmen in One Day International matches. In 164 matches he scored 6,068 runs, including seven centuries and 46 half centuries, at an average of 44.61. His strike rate of 72.56, while pedestrian by modern standards, was a benchmark at the time. Jones played in the 1987 World Cup winning team, and was noted for his electric running between the wickets, outstanding out-fielding and aggressive batting especially against fast bowlers. With his positive, aggressive and flamboyant style of play he became a crowd favourite.
Jones went on to be a mainstay of the Australian Test team middle order over the next six years and being one of the stars of the successful 1989 Ashes tour of England. He was controversially dropped from the test team at the start of the 1992–93 season, despite having topped the averages in the previous Test series, against Sri Lanka. The decision dumbfounded many Australian cricket fans, given his reasonably good form at the time, and sparked calls from some in the media that his axing was due to a personal vendetta the then Australian coach Bob Simpson held against Jones. Other commentators suggested that Jones’s penchant for publicly questioning the motives and decisions of the national team selectors brought a premature end to his Test career.
Jones stayed in the one-day team a little longer: he was omitted from the one-day team for the 1993 Ashes tour, but managed to force his way back into the team for one last stint during the 1993–94 season, before being dropped .
Jones also played for Durham and Derbyshire in the English County Championship. He left Derbyshire in mid-season and also had run-ins with authority and team mates in his home state of Victoria. During his career, he scored 19,188 runs in first class matches, including 55 centuries and 88 half centuries and a highest score of 324 not out, at an average of 51.85.
Jones is now a coach and a commentator. He is well known for his condemnation of the bowling action of the Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
He is also a noted fundraiser for people with cancer. On 12 June 2006, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, he was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for “service to cricket as a player, coach and commentator, and to the community through fundraising activities for organisations assisting people with cancer”.
He is also well known to enjoy being in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, and enjoys the region’s culture and cuisine. Jones publicly expressed his disappointment at not being considered for selection as coach of the Indian cricket team in 2005; another former Australian batsman Greg Chappell was selected instead.
Jones’ commentating contract with Ten Sports was terminated after referring to South African player Hashim Amla as a “terrorist” on 7 August 2006. When Amla, who is a Muslim with a full beard, took a catch, Jones was heard to say “the terrorist gets another wicket”. Jones made the comment during a commercial break, but the comment went to air live in South Africa as its broadcast had not been interrupted. A not too uncommon scenario. I remember both Tony Grieg and Andrew Strauss also getting caught out.
Full name Dean Mervyn Jones
Born 24 March 1961
Coburg, Victoria, Australia
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right arm off spin
National side Australia
Test debut (cap 324) 16 March 1984 v West Indies
Last Test 13 September 1992 v Sri Lanka
ODI debut (cap 79) 30 January 1984 v Pakistan
Last ODI 6 April 1994 v South Africa
Domestic team information
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 52 164 245 285
Runs scored 3,631 6,068 19,188 10,936
Batting average 46.55 44.61 51.85 46.93
100s/50s 11/14 7/46 55/88 19/72
Top score 216 145 324* 145
Balls bowled 198 106 2,710 802
Wickets 1 3 27 23
Bowling average 64.00 27.00 57.22 30.69
5 wickets in innings – – 1 0
10 wickets in match – N/A 0 N/A
Best bowling 1/5 2/34 5/112 2/0
Catches/Stumpings 34/– 54/– 185/– 114/–
Source: CricketArchive, 26 January 2009