The television faux pas August 8, 2006

Jones's comment was an off-air joke

Cricinfo staff

Dean Jones: a costly gaffe © Getty Images

Dean Jones, who has been sacked by Ten Sports after he was caught on live television referring to Hashim Amla as "terrorist", made the remark in jest to fellow commentators unaware that the feed was live, Cricinfo has learned.

While there is unanimity in the commentators' fraternity that Jones had to go after being heard making such a politically insensitive remark, Jones did not say it on live television, or at least did not think he was doing so.

"It was unfortunate," a member of the production team said. "It was daft of Jones to say what he did. But to be honest, it was said as bit of a joke, for his fellow commentators. It was a joke in poor taste, but he thought it was during a break."

It was an ad-break on Ten Sports, but to Jones's misfortune the moment Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed was shown on SuperSport, who were beaming the match in South Africa. And Jones said: "The terrorist has got another wicket".

A contrite Jones, who will reportedly keep his commentary position on Australian radio, described his moment of madness to reporters after landing in his hometown of Melbourne. "I waited four or five seconds and I just turned around and made a stupid, ridiculous off-the-wall comment that unfortunately was picked up in the background and, as television people always know, the microphone is always live," Jones said. "There was only one country in the world that didn't take the ad break live and that was South Africa. It was picked up by a few viewers."

Jones, 45, said he had written a full-page apology to Amla and the South African team, as well as saying sorry to the bowler directly. "I got hold of Hashim Amla and I spoke to him for a certain amount of time," he said. "I gave him my sincerest apologies and he was gracious enough to accept it. He said 'I hope you get through this ugly situation that you are going through'."

"We have a zero tolerance policy for any expression of racial stereotyping and prejudice and condemn in the strongest possible terms the comments made by Mr Jones," Ten Sports said in an apologetic media release. "We are reviewing our systems to ensure that such offensive and insensitive remarks do not happen again."

Boundary Breakers, the sports marketing company representing Amla's business interests, has condemned the stereotyping. "While it acknowledges Jones's apology and remorse at making these comments, Boundary Breakers also commends television company "10 Sport" [sic] for acting swiftly in sacking Jones from further commentating duties during the Test and one-day series," the company said in a media release.