MUMBAI: Former Australia batsman and cricket commentator Dean Jones, who had been covering the Indian Premier League from Mumbai, has died after a heart attack aged 59, broadcaster Star India said on Thursday.
Jones won the World Cup with Australia in 1987 and played 52 Tests and 164 One-day Internationals in an international career that spanned 10 years from 1984.
Jones was in Mumbai as part of Star India’s commentary panel for the ongoing IPL.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Mr Dean Mervyn Jones,” the company said in a statement. “He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to ’an absolute cricketing legend’ as he sent his condolences to Jones’s family.
“A true entertainer at the crease, whose flair with the bat and electric running between the wickets changed the game forever. A genuine good guy & a huge loss,” Morrison tweeted.
Former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar said he was heartbroken.
“A wonderful soul taken away too soon,” Tendulkar said. “Had the opportunity to play against him during my first tour of Australia. May his soul rest in peace and my condolences to his loved ones.”
But the Victorian’s most memorable innings was in 1986, when he struck 210 in the blistering heat of Chennai during cricket’s second-ever tied Test.
“One hour into day two I knew I was in trouble,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “I didn’t drink anything apart from a cup of tea or coffee. We didn’t know anything about dehydration and rehydration back then. Then I just batted from memory basically. I can’t remember much from 120 on.”
Jones ended his career with 3,631 runs in Tests at an average of 46.55 with 11 hundreds and 14 half-centuries, and over 6,000 runs in ODIs with seven centuries and 46 fifties.
Earl Eddings, chairman of Cricket Australia, said Jones would be sorely missed by fans around the world.
“Dean Jones was a hero to a generation of cricketers and will forever be remembered as a legend of this great game,” Eddings said in a statement. “This is a truly sad day. Deano’s loss will be felt not just at home in Australia, but across the globe.”
Jones’ former Australian captain, Allan Border, said he was ‘genuinely shattered’ by the news.
“He was simply just a good mate that always had my back. We’d stayed close post cricket and only talked this morning about a fun project that we were going to get involved in,” Border told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The cricketing fraternity took to social media to pay tribute.
“I can’t believe this news. So very sad to hear about this. Rip Deano,” Australian batsman David Warner tweeted while Steve Smith said Jones was a ‘wonderful player for Australia’ who would be missed.
Former Australian batsman Darren Lehmann said: “Dean Jones ... taught me so much on and off the ground. I and all of the cricketing world will miss him. Our thoughts are with Jane and the family at this time.”
Ehsan Mani, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, expressed his profound shock at the untimely demise of Jones.”Deeply saddened with the news of Dean’s passing away. He had a deep association with Pakistan cricket, having served in the coaching capacity in the PSL franchises Islamabad United and Karachi Kings, and had also expressed interest and availability in coaching the Pakistan men’s national cricket team last year.
“My deepest condolences go to Dean’s family and friends, and stand firmly with them in these difficult times.”
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja, who worked with Jones as a co-commentator, said the news had left him in complete shock.
“One of a kind you were Deano and how lonely and helpless you must have felt on your own in that hotel room — a death we commentators fear the most, and likely to meet, helpless and gone in that hotel room... RIP my friend,” Ramiz tweeted.
Australia white-ball captain Aaron Finch tweeted: “Still in shock hearing the news of Deano’s passing. Thoughts are with Jane and the family at this incredibly tough time. A great man with an amazing passion for the game.”
Australia’s head coach Justin Langer, observed: “Deano was a true legend of Australian sport and world cricket, one of the great players and personalities in a golden time for the game. His role in the team’s World Cup win in 1987 and the 1989 Ashes under AB [Allan Border] were a huge turning point for Australian cricket.
Jones retired from all forms of cricket in 1998, going on to work as a coach and commentator. He was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2019.
Later he coached Islamabad United and Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League and was also a widely travelled commentator.
Father of two daughters — Isabella and Pheobe — was a colourful character known for his outspoken views.
A popular figure in Indian media, he had his own show ‘Prof Deano’ on news network NDTV.
“Shocked to hear about the tragic loss of Dean Jones. Praying for strength and courage to his family and friends,” said India’s skipper Virat Kohli on Twitter.
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said the news was ‘absolutely heartbreaking’.
“A wonderful soul taken away too soon. Had the opportunity to play against him during my first tour of Australia,” he said.
“Gone so young. Condolences to the family and may his soul rest in peace,” added India’s head coach Ravi Shastri.
Jones attracted controversy in 2006 during a series in Sri Lanka when he described retired South African batsman Hashim Amla, a Muslim, as looking ‘like a terrorist’ due to his long beard.
He was sacked by Ten Sports as a commentator for the remark, for which he later apologised.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020