Some cracking stories about Dean Jones have emerged in the wake of the Aussie cricket legend’s death, but none better than this absolute corker from Damien Fleming.
Jones died last week aged 59 after suffering a heart attack in his Mumbai hotel and tributes have poured in from all around the world for a man who lived and breathed the sport.
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For all the praise about his famous double century in Chennai and being a one-day trailblazer, Jones could also be a ratbag in the changeroom — as Fleming found out the hard way.
The fast bowler walked into the Victorian team as a teenager in the late 1980s and was a rookie among giants of Australian cricket such as Jones, Merv Hughes and Simon O’Donnell.
Fleming knew his place as the new guy and kept his mouth shut for most of his early days. He played a lot of white ball cricket when his professional career was starting but found himself filling in as 12th man for plenty of Sheffield Shield games — which is how he experienced first hand Jones’ dark side as a teammate.
“He was just a 12th man’s nightmare,” Fleming told The Grade Cricketer podcast this week.
“If he was not out you’d have to be watching every ball because he might want chewy, he had different gloves for different bowlers … then when he introduced the sunglasses he had orange ones for glary conditions, he had black ones for light conditions.
“If you didn’t get out there quickly, he’d have you throwing balls to him for a couple of hours after the day’s play. You had to be right out there.”
A young Fleming was an easy target for his more experienced comrades. They used to tape his bowling boots to the ceiling and throw his pads in the spa, while Hughes would sign his bat with black texta, forcing a sheepish Fleming to walk to the crease with an autographed piece of willow.
This was all good-natured ribbing Fleming could cop, but one thing he wouldn’t hack was being robbed of the chance to listen to his beloved walkman.
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Deano will be missed.Source:Getty Images
Fleming was always on edge when Jones was battingSource:News Limited
A heavy metal fanatic, Fleming used to stick the headphones in and bop away, all while keeping an eye on the middle to see if his services as 12th man were required. One day with Jones batting, panic struck.
“I used to listen to my heavy metal, I’d watch every ball just knowing I’d need to be out there, especially if it was Deano,” Fleming told The Grade Cricketer.
“I press play on my cassette walkman, it doesn’t work. Press play again and it’s not working. I don’t care if you sticky tape my boots to the roof and put my pads in the spa, you don’t mess with my cassette walkman.
“I’m going to give the boys a spray and then I hear this, ‘Deano’s waiting, he wants something’. And it’s like a heart attack thinking, ‘Oh jeez, what does he want?’
“So I grab some gloves, grab a bat, running out there — and you know how big the MCG is, normally the batsman would meet you halfway to help you out. But not this day. He’s making me run all the way to the pitch.
“I’m thinking, ‘S**t, I’m going to be throwing balls for bloody four hours here’.
“I ran as fast as I can, get a couple of metres away, look up and he goes, ‘Hey champ’ — as he called everyone — ‘look up’.
“And he threw the two batteries from the walkman to me.
“He did have a good sense of humour, Deano.”
Based on that prank, he sure did.
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