First as an entertaining cricketer and later as a popular TV pundit, Dean Jones, 59, lived more than half of his life in the public eye. Die-hard cricket fans grew up watching him switch roles as seamlessly as he changed gears while batting. As an aggressive batsman he spoke his mind and occasionally got into trouble. Once he had a microphone in hand, he was the avuncular, bantering cricket tragic. The game was so dear to Jones that he couldn’t just sit home and watch it from a distance on television. He dared to venture into uncharted territories. When the world was wary of traveling to Pakistan, he went and coached Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League. Once while commentating in Afghanistan there was a bomb blast outside the stadium. The embassy offered to fly him out but he chose to stay back.
Anyone from the 80s generation who saw his jaw-dropping double hundred in Madras would vouch that Jones wasn’t a quitter. They would remember Jones for his sun hat, the zinc-creamed lips, the white wrist band, the audacious batting and acrobatic fielding. For them, he would be forever frozen in a leap near the boundary or the dance down the track to send the ball over long-on. Jones poured his character into every swing of the bat. A couple of years after he retired, he summed up his batting philosophy: “Sometimes I died by the sword but by Jove, I had a few kills along the way.”
The second innings as a commentator had run into early troubles after he called South African batsman Hashim Amla a “terrorist” on air. Later he would say it was a “flippant” comment uttered in the assumption that he was off air. But Jones bounced back. His love for the game and eye for detail made him one of the best analysts. He was also seen as an innovator, unafraid to share some of his out-of-left-field theories. There was never a dull cricket conversation when he was around.
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