2010. The NDTV Studios were abuzz. And I bumped into Professor Deano.
The chemistry was instant. When he heard about my Uncle, Nari Contractor’s incident on the cricket field when he was hit on the head by a Charlie Griffith bouncer, in 1962, he actually recounted the entire incident as if he was in the Commentary Box during the LIVE action.
I still remember his words, ” Man, those guys had guts…….. imagine facing those thunderbolts from Hall and Griffith, with NO HELMET…..Phewwwwww!” as he pursed his lips in typical Deano style and whistled!. We exchanged number, and the customary Merry Christmas / Happy New Year messages were the simple connect we had for a couple of years.
Then in 2012, at the start of the IPL we reconnected, and we shared an interesting idea where Deano would do a special column as well as host an evening for the Top – Management of Metlife. The deal was struck, and the columns started. They became one of the most followed and read columns in the Times Of India, as Deano was straightforward in his comments, never mincing his words.
But the icing on the cake was the Metlife – Dean Jones evening
The event was held at GOLFWORX, as I had spoken with Rahul Singh and as always he was game to be part of an interesting opportunity. Senior Managers and Sales heads from various regions were there to listen to this legendary Aussie cricketer. The entire evening had been planned as a 45-minute presentation by Deano, and then a 15-minute Q&A.
But guess what? The evening went on and on…… and the engagement of each and every one from Metlife was amazing to watch.
The One hour event went on for nearly two and a half hours, with not a moment of boredom or slackening up. Everyone was on the edge of the seats as Deano recounted his magical journey.
Deano enthralled them with his anecdotes, and when he spoke about how the Windies, touring Australia in the late 80’s, had the Kangaroos on the hop.
Everyone was quite surprised by Deano’s candid admission. The Caribbean Pacers had the Aussies literally licking their wounds and almost every Australian cricketer in that team had bruise marks to show for it, some of them with broken ribs, fractured forearms, and some even spitting blood.
That’s when something snapped, and the Australian team decided to fight FIRE with FIRE. The Windies had no idea that a wounded Kangaroo is more dangerous than a wounded Lion, and the Aussies fought back to give the West Indians a taste of their own medicine.
The other incident he narrated with great gusto was his 210 in the Madras ( now called Chennai ) Test where he was dehydrated to the extent that he was in hospital battling for life after a gutsy performance in the sapping 42 degrees heat of South India.
The Test is also remembered for being the second TIED Test in history, and Deano kept everyone from Metlife hanging on to every word, as he recounted each nuance of the innings and the game, always drawing parallels with how Cricket and Business, especially for Frontline Sales guys is so similar.
He kept emphasising that in sport or in business, giving up is no option. Fighting for each run was like fighting for each sale.
A century scored was like achieving your sales target.
And most importantly what you did in the last game was no guarantee how you would do in the future.
Deano answered each and everyone, every query, every probing question, with extreme candour and honesty.
He was happy to have as many photos taken with him, and did so with a huge grin ( as you can see in the photograph with me ) with each and every one from Metlife.
After the session, he also went to the GOLFWORK driving booths and gave Golf Lessons to the Sales team, many of whom were trying their hand at Golf for the very first time.
When Tilak Malaviya had discussed the syndicated column we at Creatigies added this Team-Motivation engagement and METLIFE responded very positively to the idea.
At the end of the evening, the Metlife marketing folks, Bala, Devesh and the CEO Rajesh Relan were over the moon…..
Over the years Deano and I kept bumping into each other in Bombay, where he was part of the IPL commentary team and of the Select Dug Out, something he was literally a Founding Father of.
Each time he would walk across, a big wide grin plastered all across that face, with a naughty twinkle in his eye, and then a big bear hug….!
The last few messages we exchanged was to wish him Happy Birthday in March, and then during the lockdown, checking on each other’s safety and health.
He was always extremely prompt in his replies!
Over the years Prof Deano’s did not hold a single boring lecture.He made us all learn some very valuable lessons in from a game
Go well dear friend. A whole new innings awaits you, and I am sure you will walk into the HEAVEN XI with as much of a swagger as you did when you donned the Baggy Green for the first time.
We will miss you.
The author is the Founder & Managing Director Creatigies Communications Pvt Ltd., Traveller, Photographer, Foodie, Poet and an avid sports nut.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author’s own. The opinions and facts expressed here do not reflect the views of InsideSport and InsideSport does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
*The article first appeared in the Mumbaimirror.com