Jones and Hadlee: Best of rivals
‘‘He had a presence.’’
Sir Richard Hadlee and Dean Jones spent last Christmas Day together north of Melbourne, the banter flowing, each still referring to the other as their cricketing ‘bunny’.
The great trans-Tasman rivals kept in contact; Jones checking in regularly on Hadlee in recent years as he underwent surgery and treatment for cancer.
So when Hadlee awoke in Christchurch yesterday for his regular round of golf, and was greeted by news of Jones’ sudden death in India, aged 59, he was floored.
‘‘Totally shocked and saddened about the whole thing. I didn’t know until about 7am this morning when my wife told me. Unbelievable, 59 and gone, just like that, is so tragic,’’ Hadlee told Stuff yesterday.
Jones suffered a heart attack in Mumbai on Thursday where he was part of a Star Sports studio panel for the Indian Premier League. He is survived by wife Jane and daughters Isabella and Phoebe.
New Zealand’s greatest cricketer and the brash Australian batsman first tangled in the late 1980s and, after Hadlee’s retirement in 1990 they formed a friendship, doing speaking engagements and helping promote the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
In the 1987 test series in Australia, Hadlee dismissed Jones for 2, 0 and 4 in the first innings at Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.
But Jones got verbal ammunition for future years when he snared Hadlee caught and bowled with his gentle offspinners, his only wicket in a 52-test career in which he scored 3631 runs at an average of 46, and 11 centuries.
‘‘He took great delight in telling the world about that, because I got him out six times,’’ Hadlee said.
‘‘I dominated him in that test series but in one-day cricket I hardly ever got him out. There was mutual respect between us. Yes we were at each other when we played but off the field, a great friendship.’’
Hadlee and wife Di had Christmas lunch at Jones’ property at Romsey on the eve of the Black Caps’ appearance in the Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A proud Victorian, Jones impressed Hadlee by showing off his lawn made up of the hallowed turf of the MCG. ‘‘His beloved MCG was part of his backyard. That sums Deano up, a bit quirky, and he took great delight
in keeping it in the right condition.’’
His Christmas gift to Jones summed up their friendship, Hadlee said: a cushion cover with a giant rabbit and a message: ‘To Deano, one of the great Australian batsmen. Howzat, Paddles 431 [test wickets].’
Jones regaled the MCG press box the next day in mock anguish, saying: ‘‘Then I had to hear about all the times he got me out.’’
But in Australian gold in 50-over cricket, Jones was near unstoppable.
In nine one-day internationals against New Zealand teams including Hadlee, Jones scored 603 runs at an average of 100.5. Hadlee dismissed him just three times in ODIs. New Zealand cricket watchers will recall it vividly: Jones swaggering to the centre, chewing his gum, swathed in zinc cream, and causing the bowlers endless headaches as he scampered between wickets and charged towards them. ‘‘He had a presence. He was always looking to get on top of the bowler quickly,’’ Hadlee said. ‘‘He also had a power game and he liked to move out of his crease and come towards you all the time. As a bowler you think ‘I’m going to bounce you’ but that’s what he wanted because he was a very good hooker of the ball. It was a great contest. ‘‘Deano set the standard for future players in that era about how to run between wickets in the one-day game. That’s one of the great legacies he left. He just had a great love for the game as a player, coach and commentator. His life was cricket and he’ll be sadly missed.’’
In 164 ODIs, Jones scored 6068 runs at 44.61.
Jones rated Hadlee ‘‘one of the greats’’, and in an interview with former team-mate Damien Fleming for cricket.com.au spoke of their final joust at Auckland’s Eden Park in 1990.
It was Hadlee’s last ODI in New Zealand, and he scored 79 in the hosts’ paltry total of 162. Then Jones slayed the bowlers everywhere, hitting five sixes in his unbeaten 102 off 91 balls in a comfortable Australian victory.
Jones told Fleming: ‘‘People were running on the ground and I went straight down the race to follow him [Hadlee] and sledge him, and I walked in the dressing room. The room was empty.
‘‘And I looked at him and he’s got a beer and said ‘ Deano you want a beer’, and I said ‘congratulations, great career mate, well done’. And I sat there with my pads on for another hour and a half talking about the great times.’’
For Hadlee there were plenty of great times to discuss when they caught up. He said Jones and Dennis Lillee were two of his lifelong Aussie friendships, forged in trans-Tasman cricketing battle.
‘‘We’ve had a relationship for nearly 35 years and all of a sudden it’s gone . . . off the field you develop these great mates and friendships and you feel you can call or text at any time and you’ll get a response. That, to me, is life fulfilling.’’
Dean Jones, left, who died suddenly in India, shared a unique relationship with Sir Richard Hadlee, right. The two were fierce combatants on the field – Hadlee dominating their contests in test cricket, Jones reversing the trend in one-day matches – but shared a mutual respect and became good friends over 35 years.
Dean Jones will best be remembered as an innovative one-day batsman.