Sad truth behind Deano’s smile

 

The sudden passing of Dean Jones last week was followed by an overwhelming response from the global sporting community.

Cricket greats and close friends paid tribute to a pioneer of the sport, whose Test career was arguably cut short in his prime.

Jones was inducted into the Australian cricket hall of fame in 2019, and is remembered as one of the country's most influential figures in the one-day format.

As a colleague recently put it - Jones walked so Ricky Ponting could run.

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But he was also a confrontational character, on and off the field, which at times rubbed off poorly on others. His infamous request for Curtly Ambrose during an ODI match in 1993 potentially summed him up better than any other anecdote could.

Jones never shied away from voicing his opinion, and that honesty sadly resulted in the broken relationships with former teammates and cricket administration.

Earlier this year, Jones had a falling out with Cricket Victoria, requesting for his life membership to be rescinded in April.

After his retirement in 1998, Jones' legacy was honoured when CV renamed the state one-day player of the year award The Dean Jones Medal. However, his name was removed from the accolade last summer upon the former captain's request.

Dean Jones in 1992.
Dean Jones in 1992.

Speaking to Sportsday, Jones revealed he asked to have the honours stripped because he felt "hurt" by Cricket Victoria's questionable management and strategic plan.

"Where it has come from is the lack of culture and vision and strategy by the CV administration has just hurt me," Jones said in April.

"I played 20 years for my state and was proud to have done it. Their five-step plan from 2017 to 2022 is just so far wrong as to where they are going.

"They wanted to be the No. 1 sport in Victoria. Well, that is not happening after AFL.

"They wanted to make permanent Australian players. Well, we haven't got one decent player in the Australian team except for Aaron Finch, who is the captain.

"The way the administration has looked after things is poor. They did budget costs of $2 million last year, and the Victorian team had no pre-season tournament.

"The 18 premier clubs are supposed to produce all these permanent Australian players. It is so weak. It is just awful the way it has been played.

"Every past player Merv Hughes, Shane Warne, Darren Berry, Damien Fleming, Simon O'Donnell left Cricket Victoria with some sort of axe to grind.

"No past players have been involved in any coaching spots. No reunions of past winning shields or past players - men or women - have been involved in reunions.

"Our website doesn't even mention any teams that have won shields. By the way, we have won 32."

Having completed stints as a T20 coach in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jones was eager to serve as head coach of a Melbourne-based Big Bash franchise, but CV opted instead for younger, more inexperienced coaches when he applied in 2019.

A tribute to dean Jones at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A tribute to dean Jones at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 59-year-old admitted to feeling insulted by the decision, which proved a "catalyst" for his choice to have his life membership rescinded.

"The catalyst was I put in for two jobs for the Stars and the Renegades," Jones said.

"David Hussey resigns from the Cricket Victoria board and gets the job … He had no experience and nothing behind him.

"Michael Klinger went for the job in front of Trevor Bayliss, Brad Hodge and others. He had no experience and gets the job.

"They have given jobs for the boys, and I think it is an insult not just to me, but to overseas coaches.

"Trevor Bayliss is the best coach in the world and they didn't want him. I feel we are going the wrong way at the moment.

"I told Shaun Graf and Andrew Ingleton, the CEO of Cricket Victoria, that I wanted my name and my life membership to be rescinded.

"They asked me why, and I said one day you might want to ring me up, because I haven't spoken to Andrew Ingleton for 18 months, nor have I spoken to Shaun Graf.

"They rang me up in January and said we need to talk. I said, 'Talk to me when I get back from Pakistan'. I've been home for three weeks. They haven't spoken to me."

On Friday, national coach Justin Langer revealed he foresaw a coaching role for Jones in Australia's T20 squad ahead of next year's World Cup.

As reported by The Australian's Peter Lalor, Jones also had a falling out with former teammates, most notably Victorian teammate Merv Hughes.

The captivating paceman played a pivotal role in Jones' career-defining 216 against the West Indies at Adelaide Oval in 1989, his highest score in Test cricket.

The pair combined for a ninth-wicket partnership of 114 against a bowling attack featuring Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, with tailender Hughes surviving 118 deliveries at the crease.

They were "closer than brothers" according to Jones, until a bitter confrontation in the twilight of their professional careers ended the friendship, one which never recovered.

Merv Hughes and Dean Jones.
Merv Hughes and Dean Jones.

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Speaking to veteran journalist Robert Craddock on Fox Sports' Cricket Legends, Jones candidly admitted it was the biggest regret of his life.

"It got to a stage where he was injured - the previous match he had a hammy or something - and I said, 'Mate, we've been told by selectors you have to do a trial match. Just bowl five overs in this trial match'," Jones said.

"He wouldn't bowl off the long run-up; he'd bowl off three steps.

"When I went upstairs at the end of the day's play of the second XI match, all the selectors said, 'No, he's done, we can't pick him'.

"So we called him up to the room. We sat down, and I said, 'Merv, how do you feel?'

"He said, 'I told you Deano, I was right. I'll be OK for Tasmania for next week.' And then the selectors looked at me and said, 'It's up to you Deano. You do whatever you think is right'.

"I looked at him and said, 'Sorry, you're not ready'."

Jones loved the game, and was a passionate state captain. But he conceded that fierce determination cost him a lifelong friendship.

"In hindsight, if I had the chance again, I'd play him. The game isn't just about winning all the time," Jones said.

"We went to war together. If he didn't hang around with me in Adelaide, I never would have got a 200. He got hit 45 times.

"He was also at the end of his career as well; he was fighting those demons, and you're a different person when you're, 'What do I do next?' We didn't know what we were going to do next in life after that, so we didn't have much organised. It was a difficult time.

"We're nowhere near as close as we used to be."

 

Originally published as Sad truth behind Deano's smile


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