Dean Jones – the man who changed course of the Ashes

Bats­man who helped turn Aus­tralia from laugh­ing stock to se­rial win­ners has died aged 59 while work­ing at the IPL

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Scyld Berry chief cricket writer

Dean Jones, who died yes­ter­day aged 59 of a heart at­tack in Mum­bai, where he was work­ing on tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of the In­dian Pre­mier League, was a very good bats­man for Aus­tralia, a keen stu­dent of the game who was ahead of his time in analysing it, and the man who turned the tide of Ashes cricket.

Eng­land had won the 1985 Ashes very eas­ily, as eas­ily as any se­ries since the 19th cen­tury. The play­ers were not alone in laugh­ing at Aus­tralia, lack­ing some rebels who had toured apartheid South Africa, and their lowly stan­dards. In the Ashes of 1986-87, Eng­land again brushed Aus­tralia aside, go­ing 2-0 up and re­tain­ing the urn, be­fore the worm turned – where it stayed un­til 2005.

In the last match of a five-Test se­ries which has al­ready been lost, it is tempt­ing to say “here we go again”, but Jones did not. This was the last time Ian Botham held a stran­gle­hold over the Aus­tralians. They had been shack­led by Eng­land’s spin­ners, John Em­bu­rey and Phil Ed­monds, and the game was at Syd­ney, which turned in those days.

Bat­ting first, no Aus­tralian bats­man reached 35, ex­cept Jones, who scored 184 not out. He was adept against spin as he was so quick on his feet. His grip was un­usual, both hands clasped at the bot­tom of the han­dle, and no doubt a lot of thought had gone into it as he brought an Amer­i­can style of anal­y­sis to his game, long be­fore cricket had heard of data or one-per­centers.

At Syd­ney, Jones bat­ted for nine hours – even longer than he did in the tied Test against In­dia in Chen­nai, where he made 210 be­fore go­ing on saline drips – and sur­vived 421 balls, drain­ing the eupho­ria out of Eng­land. They lost in­side the fi­nal hour by 55 runs. At a stroke, Jones put the back­bone back into Aus­tralia’s Test team. With Bobby Simp­son as their first na­tional coach and Al­lan Bor­der as their cap­tain – hard men do not come much harder than those two – Aus­tralia em­barked upon the best part of two decades of crush­ing Eng­land.

It had been only his third Test when Jones scored his dou­ble­cen­tury in Chen­nai in the sec­ondTest tie. It was more of a tri­umph over con­di­tions – the in­tense hu­mid­ity of Septem­ber 1986 – than over In­dia’s bowl­ing, be­cause the pitch was so flat. Two other Aus­tralians made hun­dreds in the same in­nings, one of them Bor­der, who re­acted to Jones’s com­plaint about heat and cramp by telling Jones he might as well give his place to the re­serve bats­man Greg Ritchie, not renowned for fit­ness. If there was scope for tough­en­ing up, Jones did it fast, as Eng­land were to dis­cover.

Briefly, Jones did a sim­i­lar job of in­vig­o­rat­ing Durham. As their over­seas player in their first sea­son in the County Cham­pi­onship in 1992, he brought a pro­fes­sion­al­ism not pos­sessed by the old lags, signed from other coun­ties, and lo­cal in­genues. In a di­ary about Durham’s de­but sea­son, their bowler Si­mon Hughes recorded what an eye­opener it was when Jones prac­tised his bat­ting and field­ing. Run­ning be­tween wick­ets like Jones’s, it is safe to say, had never been seen in English cricket.

His quick­ness of brain and feet made Jones an even bet­ter limited-overs bats­man. He won a World Cup with Aus­tralia in 1987 when they sur­prised the world, es­pe­cially the hosts In­dia and Pak­istan, and be­came the lead­ing one­day in­ter­na­tional bats­man in the world by to­day’s rank­ings. His high­est first­class score was 324 for his home state of Vic­to­ria, and at the end of his ca­reer he played two sea­sons for Der­byshire. But Jones was abra­sive. So con­fi­dent in his own new meth­ods, play­ing or coach­ing, he did not have the pa­tience to suf­fer those less com­mit­ted. Sooner or later, he fell out.

It was some­what sim­i­lar when he be­came a com­men­ta­tor, af­ter his re­tire­ment from play­ing in 1998. In 2006, he made a com­ment about South Africa’s bearded Hashim Amla – com­par­ing him to a ter­ror­ist – and was sus­pended from broad­cast­ing. He apol­o­gised and re­built his rep­u­ta­tion, and was work­ing with In­dian TV com­pany Star Sports at the time of his death. It was re­ported that Jones col­lapsed in the lobby of his ho­tel in Mum­bai as he en­tered with the for­mer Aus­tralia fast bowler Brett Lee, who at­tempted to re­vive him with CPR.

Tough: Dean Jones (top) catches Eng­land’s Kim Bar­nett at Lord’s in 1989; (left) bat­ting; and (in­set) he had a con­tro­ver­sial ca­reer in TV

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