The television faux pas August 9, 2006

Commentators react to Jones's gaffe

Cricinfo staff



Dean Jones: paying the price for his indiscretion © Getty Images

The reactions to Dean Jones's 'terrorist' remark towards Hashim Amla have come thick and fast not only from South African fans, but from the commentators' box as well. Various experts and media personalities - including former cricketers - agreed that commentators must always be accountable for their comments.

Harsha Bhogle, a prominent broadcaster with ESPN Star Sports, pointed out that commentators have to always be on their guard. "We work in a news room or commentary box, so we have to be careful of what we say," he told The Times of India. "You have to assume that the microphone is always on. There will be some network somewhere who will be on live even when there is a break. We have directorial microphones too, so we have to be very careful. Sometimes producers do tell us that it is leaking, be careful. I have made up my mind not to swear even when not on air."

Syed Saba Karim, the former Indian wicketkeeper-turned-commentator, did not condone Jones but believed it could have been an honest mistake. "We do chat off camera and off air but I have never experienced anything like this. Nowadays with the ICC being strict with what comes on air, strong action has already taken place," he said. "Dean Jones is popular with so many cricketers, maybe it came out inadvertently. He must be given a chance to explain his stand."

Madan Lal, the former Indian allrounder, termed it a mistake that could have been avoided. "You have to take precautions while you are on air," he stated. "You should make no personal comments, especially against religion. Producers anyway warn us from making comments against individuals. I haven't made or heard such remarks from my co-commentators. However, mistakes do happen and some pay a big price for it, like Jones."

Similiarly, Arun Lal, the former Indian batsman and prominent commentator, maintained that it was a bad mistake. "It's a very unfortunate incident. Just one of those things, when he has probably tried to sound witty. Knowing the gentleman I am sure he did not mean it. It was just a mistake, nothing else. An apology would have been fine, because as a sportsman you never in indulge in racism. I am sure Deano himself would have been embarrassed with what has happened."

There were others who saw the incident as more than a goof-up. Kirti Azad, the former Indian offspinner, called it "derogatory" and far from a joke. "Jones has been tarnished forever, now no channel would want his services," he said. Vijay Amritraj, the former Indian tennis player who has been a commentator for various channels, said it was up to the individual to be careful. "Such kind of comments and remarks cannot be allowed for commentators and there is no way what Jones said can be condoned," he said. "But every individual has a standard of ethics and it is up to every channel to decide one for itself. I do not think that there is any need for a code of conduct in this regard."