Who’s Dean Jones?
I hadn’t the slightest clue before I picked up the newspaper this morning and read that he’d been fired by TEN Sports for calling Hashim Amla a terrorist. Come to think of it, I had no idea who Amla was either.
But according to the helpful photograph and two short lines in the paper, he is South African, Muslim, plays cricket, and took a Sri Lankan wicket just before Jones referred to him as a terrorist because, you see, he’s a Muslim and he has a beard. Ha, ha.
I laugh because it was a joke, see? It appears that Jones waited a couple of seconds for the live match to take an ad break before turning around to make an “off the cuff” remark: “the terrorist has got another wicket”. Far be it from me to opine on what passes for humor in sporting circles but unfortunately for Jones, South Africa was apparently the only country that didn’t go to break and his comment was all too audible in Amla’s nation. Holy confounded disaster, Batman!
Cricket South Africa immediately demanded his head on a platter and got it. Jones hopped a plane for home and hearth but not before apologizing profusely in verbal and written form to Amla, the South African team and Muslims in general for good measure, pointing out that some of his best friends are Pakistanis who [in case we missed the point] are all Muslims. Meanwhile, down under, the Australian media had already begun sharpening its knives although Jones pre-empted his would-be critics by acknowledging his crassness as abjectly as possible.
The prevailing wisdom seems to be that 'Deano' is a loudmouth who blasted his jaw off. According to Jones himself, some kind of jinx follows him around which first stopped him from becoming a significant player during the '80s and now fixed it so that his little “joke” boomeranged to throw egg on his face. Hidden below that is the long and troubled history of Australian race relations which periodically rears its ugly head not just on the cricketing field but also in the country itself. Not that cricketing fans are likely to let Australians forget it – at least one South African reader of an Australian editorial chose to mention that while apartheid was being confronted in his country, Australians prefer to dust any and all race related unpleasantness under the carpet.