I was only mildly surprised to hear that Dean Jones had shot himself in the foot and shot his commentating career to Hell by making an outrageous remark about Hashim Amla.
Cricket watchers know Deano is not above making stupid remarks. His commentating career has demonstrated that he is an inexhaustable fund of imbecilic remarks. He covered Australia’s 2004 tour of India and drove me to distraction with his inanities. He mostly talks in cliches. In fact, he can talk in cliches till the cows come home.
In truth, he’s always been a self-centred and rather thoughtless individual who has a poor record of putting his mouth into action before engaging his brain. As a player, he alienated his team-mates with Australia, Victoria and even with Derbyshire. His file as a player, for all his brilliance as a batsman, was undoubtedly scarred with his ‘poor team player’ reputation.
I only needed one day of hearing Dean Jones as a commentator to understand that he was patently unsuitable for the position. He is constantly inflicted on Asian audiences, I guess because of his supposed credibility gained by playing 52 Tests for Australia. However, in those 52 Test matches, he learned nothing about what is required to be a broadcaster.
Quite rightly a lot of the focus of this controversy will fall onto Jones, for his disgraceful remarks. However, his employer, Ten Sports, also deserve a full measure of disapproval, for hiring someone who had a demonstrated inability to perform the fairly important job of cricket commentator with an appropriate degree of professionalism.
No doubt it is helpful to have played the game at at least first class level. However, playing ability is not broadcasting ability. The doyenne of television broadcasters, Richie Benaud, made a point of staying in England after Australia’s 1956 tour of England, to undertake a sports broadcasting course conducted by the BBC. He was also a trained newspaper journalist, in an era when Australian cricketers had to have a separate career. No million dollar salaries back then. So Benaud, who became the model of the player broadcaster, came to the microphone with a thorough and thoughtful understanding of the television industry. Few of his successors as player-broadcasters have had such a background, and it shows.
The appropriate model is perhaps the old fashioned radio model, where a professional journalist does the ball-by-ball comments, and the old player provides the expert commentary. On radio, the old pro has time to gather his thoughts, and thus (hopefully) sparing himself the embarrassment that Jones has put himself though. In one way, I suppose it is sad that Jones has self destructed in this way. But I ask you, what was he doing in that broadcast box in the first place?