Former Australia cricketer Dean Jones was honoured on day one of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where fans were present for the first time this summer, on Saturday.
The father of two, a colourful and popular character who played regularly for Victoria and Australia at the MCG, died at 59 while working in Mumbai as a commentator for the Indian Premier League.
He played 52 Tests from 1984-1992, amassing 3,631 runs at an average of 46.55, while his 164 one-day internationals yielded 6,068 runs at an average of 44.61.
Australian players gave a nod to Jones by wearing zinc on their bottom lips - one of his trademark looks - during the pre-match national anthem, reported cricket.com.au.
“Fans in his hometown relished the chance to celebrate Jones’ contribution to cricket, taking part in a fitting tribute to the cult hero as they returned to the MCG for the first time in more than nine months,” the report added.
The video tribute was played at 3.24 pm local time, his Test cap number and his highest first-class score, achieved at the MCG.
Known universally as “Deano”, and an inspiration for his aggressive batting, Jones was remembered as a fierce competitor whose knockabout demeanour concealed a keen cricketing mind.
Earlier in October, Jones received a poignant final lap at an empty Melbourne Cricket Ground following his sudden death during a commentary stint in India.
The casket of Jones, who collapsed and died aged 59, had been draped in an Australia flag and carried in a white hearse adorned with flowers spelling 324.
“Rocket Man” by Elton John – a friend of Jones’ – echoed through the 100,000-capacity arena as the hearse, followed by only 10 mourners due to anti-coronavirus rules, proceeded around the field on Saturday.
At Chennai in 1986 Jones, vomiting and shaking at the crease, defied severe heat and dehydration to score 210 and save Australia’s hopes in only the second tied Test in cricket history.
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