Oct 27, 2020 Letters
Dean Mervyn Jones, Australian cricketer turned television commentator died on September 24, 2020 while covering the present IPL matches. He played 52 tests, scored 3631 runs, highest score 261runs, average 46.55. He had 11 centuries and 14 fifties. In the ODIs he played 164 matches, scored 6068 runs, highest score 145, average 44.61. He smashed 7 centuries and 46 fifties. He was a top order right-hand batsman.
News of this irreparable loss of life jarred my mind and I immediately recalled the famous/ infamous ‘ wristband incident ‘ during the first one-day finals between West Indies and Australia in 1993. These matches were played between the fourth and fifth test matches during the tour.
The real action started when Australia was chasing 240 to win the first of the finals. The home team lost two early wickets and Dean Jones went in to bat. He had not even face a delivery when umpire Terry Prue went to Ambrose and said Dean Jones had asked for Ambrose to remove his wristbands as there was a perceived issue with the white ball clashing with the white wristbands. Ambrose taught that he was joking as he Ambrose was wearing wristbands on each hand throughout his career. Initially they were red, gold and green but then the ICC ruled that they must be white. In addition, Dean Jones had faced Ambrose before with those wristbands with no complaint from him. According to Ambrose, he used to sweat a lot and didn’t want to get the ball wet and needed something dry to wipe his brow with. He also had a white rag tucked in his trousers, which he used to dry his fingers to stop the ball from slipping out of his fingers. It was not a fashion thing for him.
Ambrose was angry. He refused. He told the umpire that it was piffle. Captain Richie Richardson and Ian Bishop joined in the confabulation. The conversation became heated. It went on for several minutes. For the sake of the game, Ambrose relented and took off both wristbands and handed them to the umpire.
Ambrose in his book,” Curtly Ambrose – A Time To Talk” with Richard Sydenham elaborated. “After Jones’s request, I thought: ‘ You should not have woken a sleeping lion.’ I was furious and started to bowl twice as fast and seriously wanted to knock Dean Jones out with the ball. I was really upset. I couldn’t bowl too short because of the rules and regulations in one -day internationals but I still manage to send a few towards his ribcage and made his life pretty uncomfortable, though he negotiated me well. I didn’t get him out but i didn’t intend to; I just wanted to make his life uncomfortable for that stupid request. ”
Ambrose disclosed that what many people did not know is that an over after Dean Jones had made his request and he was standing at the non-strikers end, he whispered to Ambrose that if Ambrose wanted to put his wristbands back on, he would not have a problem. Ambrose opined, “He realised what was happening but by then it was too late to put the lion back to sleep. I thought, ‘ you made your bed, brother; you’re in some serious trouble now,’ I finished with 5 or 32 and we won the game quite easily. I understand that his teammates were not too happy with him and rightly so. I should have thanked him for motivating me. ”
West Indies went on to win the one-day series. Sometimes in life, if we want to be successful, we must turn our negatives into positives or our weaknesses into strengths as Ambrose did in Australia. Many more interesting facts about that ‘ wristband incident ‘ and the 1993 tour ‘Down Under’ can be gleaned from Ambrose’s book alluded to above.
May Dean Mervyn Jones rest in peace.
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