Goodbye Deano

Goodbye Deano

Whom the God loves, dies young….

It was hard not to recollect these words from Lord Byron, the famous British poet who was also the leading figure of the Romantic Movement in English literature.

As news of Dean Jones passing away trickled in on Thursday afternoon, there was a huge sense of disbelief and numbness. Here is a man, sorry, was a man, who was as much Indian as a resident of Melbourne.

This generation of cricket fans knows him as Prof Deano, which is his Twitter handle name. As a commentator par excellence, who wielded the mike with fecundity and felicity, Dean Jones was simply loveable.

It seems like last night he was on air, full of energy, which is so typical of the Aussie mates. Yet, who would have thought, this was going to be his last night. There are many Aussie cricketers who love India. The romanticism of India keeps bringing them back to this country despite all the criticism from the Western world.

Steve Waugh and Brett Lee are so familiar with India, they probably would not need Google maps to navigate Kolkata and Mumbai. Dean Jones, too, was a frequent visitor to India and his cricket commentary/expert stints was loved by lakhs of people.

At first, when news of his death popped up on Twitter in the afternoon, it seemed like some other Dean Jones passing away. Heck, this was the legend of cricket, a man who was admired even by his adversaries, who had succumbed to a heart attack.

When famous Twitter handles from Australia had started tweeting about Jones’ premature departure, it seemed like, for once, the wicket had fallen early.

As a batsman, Jones was full of that typical Aussie grit, innovative, full of energy and his running between wickets redefined gathering runs. In this age when most batsmen like to slog, Dean Jones was different.

File photo of Brisbane Tied Test

He could score big and with tons of patience, which was defined by one of Test cricket’s most nostalgic matches in September 1986 in Chepauk, then Madras. Reams have been written about that Test match and if anyone wants to read in finest detail, probably there will none better than R. Mohan, Cricket Correspondent of The Hindu.

In those days, internet did not exist and famous writers reports were read with delight the next morning in newspapers. I think any connoisseur of the sport would do well to dig into The HIndu archives and read reports written by  R.Mohan.

For students like me, in 1986 September, Doordarshan and AIR brought out the innings as well as it could have at that time. Anyone who has  been to Madras, now Chennai, knows there is just one season. The degree varies from hot to hotter and hottest.

Those particular five days of September 1986 were gruelling and it required monk-like serenity and endurance of an ultra marathon runner to bat in those conditions. Yes, Dean Jones was at the crease for 502 minutes, faced 330 balls and scored 210 runs. The 27 fours and three sixes had made him an Aussie legend, which was acknowledged by coach Bob Simpson as well.

It had become a ritual to rewind and watch bits of the famous Madras Tied Test, where Jones wicket was finally claimed by off-spinner Shivlal Yadav. Call it fate or call it the heat of Mumbai, one does not know for sure what caused Dean Jones to depart so soon, bang in the first week of the IPL.

For the cricket fans born in the last 20 years, a mention must be  made of Dean Jones adapting to white ball cricket very easily. He became a key player in the Aussie campaign here during the 1987 Reliance World  Cup as he knew the sub-continent conditions well.

The outpouring of emotions on social media for the friendly Aussie who has departed untimely brings into focus the glorious uncertainties of life. To say that he died with his boots on would be most correct.

Goodbye Deano, you have left wonderful memories for a lifetime. I wish I was writing about the September 1986 Tied Test and not this sad news of September 24, 2020.

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