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Cricketers reflect on their lives and times

Dean Jones

'I'm trying to hit sixes in the commentary box'

Australia's ODI specialist and hero of the second tied Test goes down memory lane

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi

April 4, 2008

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Elton John told me, "If you do something properly once, you don't have to do it again." © Getty Images
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As a kid I loved the smell of my gloves. I always wanted my bat immaculate - if ever there was a mark of the red cherry on it, I would use the sandpaper.

I didn't go out there to play for Australia. I went out there to play and have fun.

Frankly, I never had any cricketing heroes when I was growing up. It probably helped my game because sometimes young players can be overawed when they play Test cricket. Your heroes have two arms and two legs, they wear the same pants, they go to toilet like everyone else. Get on and play.

I was very, very sick the night before my debut Test. I wasn't even picked in the original XII but had to be drafted in after Steve Smith fell ill and opted out. I was probably in worse health than him, but I ended up playing the West Indies quicks on a green pitch. That 48 in the first innings remains my best knock. It was a damp pitch and the ball was making divots in the surface, so I knew I couldn't drive any. "The only drive you get is to and from the ground," Joel Garner reminded me.

Wearing the baggy green cap is a nice honour, but not a great honour. A great honour is being regarded as a great player.

The tied Test in Madras in 1986 was the defining moment of my career. It was my third Test. During the game Allan Border told me, "Listen, if you want the No. 3's job, it's here for you. It's up to you if you wanna grab it. Bradman, Harvey, [Ian] Chappell held it. Understand its importance and respect it."

Forget about the Indian Cricket League - to me the rebel tour was when players went and supported apartheid. They took blood money and they knew, and agreed and accepted, that they'd never play for Australia again. I was approached too, but I rejected it.

The art of captaincy is about knowing the strengths, weaknesses and passions of your players, and how to prick them when they are under pressure. When Allan said "Let's get a Queenslander out here" during that Madras Test, that's what he was doing to me.

I liked to take risks to win.

Javed Miandad, Viv Richards, Martin Crowe - I wanted to play my game like them. I wanted to be aggressive, take people on, run hard between the wickets, slide into fences.

Without Border, Australia wouldn't be anywhere near where they are now.

I was the first guy to wear sunglasses on the field. That was in the 1980s. Having tried many brands I stuck with Oakley mainly because the clarity was good. And I didn't get paid for wearing them; I actually bought them. I was also the first one to wear the extra sweatbands on top of the gloves.

Viv Richards is the godfather of one-day cricket. He was the first one to back away and hit inside out. He was doing all the flick shots. Then there was Javed, who started playing the sweep shots and taking cheeky singles.

If an average bowler is on, you want to stay on strike. I learned that very quickly.

When I scored my maiden first-class hundred, for Victoria, I got a bottle of champagne sent to me with a note: "Congratulations on your first hundred for Victoria, Deano. Just a reminder: if you make enough runs, the money will look after itself." It was from Tony Barber, a television personality in Australia back then.

I don't miss playing. I thought I should have played more than I did, and I was badly handled by the selectors. But I won a World Cup, played a tied Test, played in three Ashes, won ten World Series Cups at home, captained teams ...

Elton John told me, "If you do something properly once, you don't have to do it again."

You can be direct but it can be done with a bit of compassion. I lack that sometimes.

I'm trying to hit fours and sixes in the commentary box. I'm trying to think outside the box. Yes, I played a bad shot with that terrorist remark and I got out.

When a Victorian plays for Australia, he stays there for a while.

Great players are stable and under control when they're under pressure.

Winning the 1987 World Cup in front of about 100,000 in Kolkata will remain the biggest moment of my career.

My dad pushed me and pushed me and pushed me. "Get your arse out there and start running and start hitting runs." And he kept pushing at times when I felt I should not have been pushed. In 1989, standing on the balcony of the dressing room at Old Trafford, I called him back home and said, "Thank you." We'd just won the Ashes.

On the mantelpiece at home are Sunny Gavaskar's cap and my baggy green.

The only time I pick up a cricket bat now is to sign it and give it back to a kid. I divorced batting long ago - she left me.

In the last couple of years of my career I trained twice a day trying to keep as fit as a 21-year-old. That took a lot out of me.

The reason why Australia are No. 1 is the fact that we have a love, a care for one another in the team. Particularly under pressure, our guys tend to gel together better than anyone else in the world. Mateship is in our constitution.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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