Jones affair ~~unfortunate~~, say commentators

Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Indian cricketers and commentators described Dean Jones's "terrorist" jibe as "unfortunate", saying the Australian pundit should have been more careful.

Cricketer-turned-commentator Jones was sacked Tuesday by his TV employers for calling a South African Muslim player a terrorist during the second and final Test in Colombo.

"The terrorist has got another wicket," Jones said on Monday when bearded Hashim Amla took a catch to dismiss Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara on the fourth day of the Test.

"You have to be careful about what you say and think if it's likely to hurt anyone. So choice of words is very important," Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, former India leg-spinner and current commentator, told the Times of India on Wednesday.

"This was an unfortunate incident, because knowing Deano he did not mean any offence. It's a basic human error."

Noted commentator Harsha Bhogle said TV experts have to be more careful of what they say and should assume that the microphone is always on.

"There will be some network somewhere who will be on live even when there is a break. We have directional microphone too, so we have to be very careful," said Bhogle, who has been commentating on the game for more than a decade.

"Sometimes producers do tell us that it is leaking, be careful. I have made up my mind not to swear even when not on air."

Jones, 45, appeared to suggest there was an element of bad luck to the affair.

"There was only one country in the world that didn't take the ad break live and that was South Africa. It was picked up by a few viewers," he said after arriving in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Former India Test batsman Arun Lal said it just one of those things when Jones probably tried to sound witty.

"It's a very unfortunate incident," said Lal. "Knowing the gentleman I am sure he did not mean it. It was just a mistake. I am sure Deano himself would have been embarrassed with what has happened."

Former Test all-rounder Madan Lal said experts should make no personal comments, especially against religion.

"Producers anyway warn us from making comments against individuals," said Lal, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad.

"Luckily, in my experience I have not made or heard such remarks from my co-commentators. However, mistakes do happen and some pay a big price for it, like Jones."

Jones said he had written a full-page apology to Amla and the South African team, as well as saying sorry to the bowler directly.

"I got hold of Hashim Amla and I spoke to him for a certain amount of time. I gave him my sincerest apologies and he was gracious enough to accept it," said Jones, who sacked after a complaint from Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola.

Jones earlier told reporters in Colombo that he respected the Muslim faith.

He played 52 Tests and 164 One-day internationals for Australia between 1984 and 1994 and was named the Wisden cricketer of the year in 1990.

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