Late cricketer Jones farewelled in last lap of empty MCG

Melbourne (AFP) –


Former Australia batsman Dean Jones has been farewelled in a poignant final lap of an empty Melbourne Cricket Ground following his sudden death last month.

The casket of Jones, who collapsed and died aged 59, was draped in an Australia flag and carried in a white hearse adorned with flowers spelling "324", his Test cap number and his highest first-class score, achieved at the MCG.

"Rocket Man" by Elton John -- a friend of Jones -- echoed through the 100,000-capacity arena as the hearse, followed by only 10 mourners due to anti-coronavirus rules, proceeded around the field on Saturday.

"We have been deeply moved by the outpouring of love for Dean over the last week and can't thank everyone enough for their support and for sharing their memories with us," Jones's widow Jane said in a tribute statement.

"We will forever miss Dean's energy, his zest for life, passion for cricket and his love for us as a family," she added.

The father of two, a colourful and popular character who played regularly for Victoria and Australia at the MCG, died while working in Mumbai as a commentator for the Indian Premier League.

He played 52 Tests from 1984-1992, amassing 3,631 runs at an average of 46.55, while his 164 one-day internationals yielded 6,068 runs at an average of 44.61.

Known universally as "Deano", and an inspiration for his aggressive batting, Jones was remembered as a fierce competitor whose knockabout demeanour concealed a keen cricketing mind.

At Chennai in 1986 Jones, vomiting and shaking at the crease, defied severe heat and dehydration to score 210 and save Australia's hopes in only the second tied Test in cricket history.