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The Roar



The Dean Jones example that Australian selectors must avoid in regenerating ageing Test squad

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13th March, 2024
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The Australian cricket team is in the early stages of regenerating the Test line-up and whenever the selectors decide it’s time to freshen up the ageing side, there is one example they should use as a cautionary tale. 

More than 30 years on, Dean Jones’ abrupt end to his Test career still stands out as one of the most seismic selection blunders of all time. 

On the eve of Australia’s 1992-93 five-Test showdown on home soil against the all-conquering West Indies, the selectors dropped Jones for the first Test at the Gabba for a debutant in Damien Martyn. 

The blunder wasn’t the fact that Martyn wasn’t going to end up being a top-line batter, the problem was that he was being thrown to the wolves against a fearsome Windies pace quartet when an experienced stalwart of the side was punted with little justification.

Jones had been averaging 52.7 for the year, had blazed an unbeaten 150 at Perth the previous home summer and a crucial 100 not out in the previous series on tour to Sri Lanka. 

He had always been at odds with coach Bob Simpson over tactics and selections and his swift removal backfired on Australia. 

Martyn made just 169 runs at 28.16 and when he was injured on the eve of the fourth Test, the selectors again snubbed Jones to bring in another rookie in Justin Langer.


The young left-hander acquitted himself well, particularly after facing a hostile spell from Ian Bishop in his frightening prime, but the Aussies lost the famous Adelaide Oval match by a solitary run before the Windies sealed the series with a shellacking in Perth. 

For veteran skipper Allan Border, it was his last opportunity to topple the Windies and it is fair to say his team would have been a much stronger chance of conquering the Calypso Kings if the selectors had stuck with Jones in the middle order, especially on home turf.

Heading into next summer, Pat Cummins’ side is facing a similar predicament in that all members of the current XI will be over 30 apart from all-rounder Cameron Green by the time they take on India at the Gabba in what is the modern version of the stoush for the heavyweight championship.

1992: Portrait of Dean Jones of Australia and Durham. Mandatory Credit: Chris Cole/Allsport

Dean Jones in 1992. Photo: Chris Cole/Allsport

As has been well documented there are few young batters emerging from the pack to put pressure on the current top five who all have question marks over their recent form. 

NSW rising star Oliver Davies is shooting to the top of the pecking order with his breakout Sheffield Shield season after his superb 131 off 147 balls on Wednesday, his third century for the summer. 

Davies has been pencilled into the selection panel’s little black book as a name to keep an eye on since he hit a double-ton in a one-dayer for NSW at the Under 19 National Championships in 2018, which included six sixes from one over.


Queensland opener Matt Renshaw, WA batting all-rounder Aaron Hardie and his veteran teammate Cameron Bancroft are also outside hopes for the Test side but they too are unlikely to get a start.

Early Sheffield Shield form next summer should be given plenty of credence by the Australian selectors, not just for those hoping to be considered for a call-up but for the incumbents. 

Cummins indicated after the Second Test win over New Zealand in Christchurch earlier this week that he was happy to persist with Steve Smith as opener even though his first four matches in the role have been largely underwhelming.

Travis Head is probably under the most pressure to get back into peak red-ball form but after being elevated to joint vice-captain last summer, it is clear the selectors view him as a future captain so he will likely get leeway unless his recent run of outs is replicated at Shield level. 

If recent history is any guide, the current selection panel will continue to err on the side of caution unless injuries force their hand against India but surely the two-Test tours to Sri Lanka and the West Indies next year represent a golden chance to inject some new blood into the baggy green brigade. 

Back to the not so recent history and the unfortunate part about Jones’ omission that summer is that he was never given another chance despite spending five more years carving up at first-class level for Victoria and on the English county scene. 


Jones’ last act as a Test player was running helmets out as 12th man to the Gabba groundstaff during a hailstorm.

His record of 3631 runs from 52 Tests at 46.55 with 11 hundreds compares favourably with many of the greats from his era and subsequent Australian batting stars.

But sadly it seems like an incomplete career compared to what he would have been capable of producing if the selectors weren’t so reckless leading into what was such an important series.

It’s even sadder and harder to believe that he is no longer with us after he died of a heart attack in Mumbai after commentating on an IPL game in 2020 at the age of 59.