There was a fitting tribute to Australian cricket great Dean Jones, who died suddenly in September, as fans returned to the MCG for the Boxing Day Test.
Australian cricket fans have paid tribute to Dean Jones at his favourite ground as Cricket Victoria confirmed it will posthumously reinstate the illustrious batsman’s life membership award with support from his family.
Jones, who was 59, died from a stroke in September while fulfilling Indian Premier League commentary duties in Mumbai.
Months before his death, the former Victorian captain handed back his CV life membership and demanded his name be removed from the state’s annual award for the best men’s one-day player.
Jones cited a “lack of culture and vision and strategy” from the CV administration, which he said “hurt” him, as his reason for the move.
On Saturday, during the opening session of the Boxing Day Test, CV announced Jones’ family had given their backing to reinstate his life membership and return his name to the one-day player award.
“Dean was one of Victoria’s greatest players and we want his cricket legacy to live on here for many decades to come,” CV chair Dr David Maddocks said.
“Dean was fundamentally passionate about Victorian cricket and wanted to see us succeed on every level and have as many Victorians playing for Australia as possible.
“We share that aspiration.
“We look forward to awarding the medal again in 2021 and in doing so paying tribute to one of our most gifted and popular players who truly invested himself as a Victorian player and supporter.”
Jones was given a private farewell lap of the MCG in October while Melbourne was in lockdown.
On day one of the Boxing Day Test, fans in his hometown relished the chance to celebrate Jones’ contribution to cricket, taking part in a fitting tribute to the cult hero as they returned to the MCG for the first time in more than nine months.
Australian players gave a nod to Jones by wearing zinc on their bottom lips – one of his trademark looks – during the pre-match national anthem as part of a “zinc up for Deano” campaign.
A Jones highlights package and video tribute was played at 3.24pm, reflecting the facts Jones was Australia’s 324th Test cricketer and his highest first-class score was 324.
“We’re really honoured to be able to do it today and I’ve seen a few people wearing the zinc,” Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stuart Fox said.
“He made such a contribution to cricket in Australia and Victoria and the MCC.
“It’s a pretty amazing moment and probably an emotional moment for a lot of people.”