“It is actually under a coroner’s inquiry at the moment, not that they think there is anything other than what they have found, but just that he was a bit young to have the stroke the way it happened,” Jane said.
Jones left behind Jane and their daughters Augusta and Phoebe, a son Koby from another relationship, Jones’ three brothers and a sister, and a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy called Gertie he bought Jane to “look after her” not long before he went overseas. Not to mention a sport that he loved and contributed to immensely, whether that be through playing, coaching or commentating.
Jane Jones said it was fitting the tribute came when the Indian team was in town, for Jones’ greatest innings was his famous 210 in the tied Test at Madras in 1986, and he later spent so much time coaching and commentating on the sub-continent.
“He loved the sub-continent and they loved him. We are really thrilled they are here. I know it’s really hard under the circumstances with COVID, and everyone is suffering in some shape or form, and the cricketers are, too … but cricket makes everyone so happy,” she said.
“I hope Saturday is a big celebration. That’s the way we are looking at it. The fact that we were only allowed to have 10 people [at his memorial] in the middle of COVID, we were very alone. It will be nice for some of the public to be a part of it. The girls are thrilled to do something.”
Jones was given a private farewell lap on the MCG’s hallowed turf, his favourite ground, as part of his memorial by his devastated family in October during Melbourne’s lockdown. But now comes a time when his hometown fans who enjoyed his thrilling innings over the years can pay their respects.
This will include a particularly poignant moment during the tea break at 3.24pm, for Jones was Australia’s 324th Test cricketer, while 324 was also his highest first-class score. There will be a tribute banner of him across a bay of seats throughout the Test.
Jane, who will have family and Allan Border – Jones’ former Australian captain and his great mate – by her side, said Jones had “lived and breathed” the MCG.
“The girls keep saying: ‘Mum, Dad would just be in his element on Saturday, they are all there for him,'” Jane said.
“He just loved the MCG. He talked about it constantly on the sub-continent, saying it’s the greatest stadium in the world. That would spark up a huge debate with everybody – he loved that. He loved the jovial side of sport and how it brought people together. He just adored the MCG – a totally fitting place for him to have a bit of a send-off and a bit of a tribute.”
The Jones family has been inundated with well wishes, from cricketing greats including Wasim Akram and Sir Ian Botham, to music legend, friend and cricket tragic Elton John.
Jane thanked Cricket Australia, Cricket Victoria, the Melbourne Cricket Club and the general public for their support.
“All the people that he used to play with at Durham in the UK as well, all the big cricket guys around the world have reached out, and a lot of the Australian guys, too,” Jane said.
“They have been beautiful.”
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.