It was a subtly sombre bunch of commentary professionals who were coming to grips with their grief after the demise of Dean Jones. Often between the normalcy of banter and guffaws, peeked out the sudden grief.
Slater ‘struggling to come to terms’
Often, the shock of a sudden tragedy overwhelms those close to the deceased. There are quite a few Australians in the IPL commentary team, many who would have known Dean Jones for several years. It was evident that former Australia opener Michael Slater was not his ebullient self during the pre-match show on the host broadcaster. He openly admitted that he was “struggling to come to terms” with the news of Dean Jones’ demise. Those who knew Jones for any length of time couldn’t believe that somebody so full of life was gone so unexpectedly.
“We have a Whatsapp group back home in Australia having players of our vintage, such as Allan Border who was Deano’s captain for most of his career. And everyone had a funny story to tell about him,” Slater said.
It seemed that the match and the show came far too early for Slater, who came into the Australian side as Jones was entering the twilight of his international career.
And in hindsight, giving him toss duties for Thursday’s game was not such a good idea for the producers, as Slater was visibly choking on camera, sometimes struggling to get words out of his mouth. “King’s XI Punjab taking on…” There was an awkward moment with KL Rahul and Virat Kohli as the Aussie tried to remember the other team in action (Royal Challengers Bangalore). One got the feeling that his heart was not in the task at that moment. Eventual centurion KL Rahul was unstoppable later on, but he too had an early stutter, pulling out off the first ball he was to face from Umesh Yadav.
– Tushar Bhaduri
No Ashes enmity when it comes to Deano
It is not often that one finds an Englishman speaking highly of an Australian, even if that Englishman is of South African origin. Kevin Pietersen never played against Jones, but the two frequently sparred on TV shows. And he was full of praise for the deceased’s propensity to laugh at himself.
“Deano had the great ability to take the mickey out of himself, which not a lot of people can do,” Pietersen said about the opinionated former Australia batsman. “We had a lot of banter in the Dugout and it was a privilege to work with him.”
Pietersen said Jones was a pleasure to work with for his colleagues, both in front of the camera and behind it. “Whenever he came to the set with his smile, he made the people around him happy, even those backstage. We’re all sad today, but a part of me also wants to celebrate Deano,” he said.
– Tushar Bhaduri
17 for a big loss
Football traditionally celebrates the life and times of an important member of the game who has passed away with a minute’s silence. After Kings XI’s innings began, commentator Murali Karthik suggested that cricket should have its own version of a minute’s silence.
“Just a thought Kevin. When somebody passes over in our cricketing world, we always wear a black armband. Can we get to a stage where maybe if Australian, West Indian Kiwi and – any team playing, if they can hold a minute’s silence at the beginning of the game just as a mark of respect to the cricketing family… and it’s 17 without loss,” Karthik was forced to remind, adding the score while making his request as the over was wrapped up. It was always going to be tough to fit in a prolonged moment to think or grieve, ponder and celebrate. The next ball was on its way.
– Shashank Nair