Dean Jones' final farewell in one last lap of the MCG
Dean Jones was farewelled by his family at a private function at his sacred MCG on the weekend, with the music of his friends Elton John and INXS playing out in the empty coliseum.
The Australian cricketing great, who tragically died aged 59 nearly a fortnight ago from a suspected heart attack in a hotel in Mumbai, was given one final lap around the famous ground where he was a revered figure in the 1980s and 90s.
A hearse carrying Jones' handmade Indian coffin was adorned with the Australian flag and a floral 324 arrangement showcasing the batting star's Test cap number.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, the private memorial was attended by 10 of his closest family including wife Jane and daughters Phoebe and Augusta.
Jane Jones paid tribute to her husband and confirmed a larger public memorial would be staged for Jones in the coming months once restrictions ease in Melbourne.
"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," said Jane Jones.
"It has been an awful time to navigate as a family, but I could not have thought of a more fitting place to say goodbye to my husband than under the lights of his beloved MCG.
"What better way to honour him than with the music of his friends Elton John and INXS echoing throughout the empty stadium.
"We'd like to extend a huge thank you to the Melbourne Cricket Club and the MCG for their willingness to create our personal tribute to Dean and for Cricket Australia's support. We would also like to extend a big thank you to the Department of Foreign Affairs for ensuring Dean was returned home to us as quickly as possible.
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"We will forever miss Dean's energy, his zest for life, passion for cricket and his love for us as a family."
Jones family has chosen to share some photos and video from the private gathering in gratitude to the cricketing community who have mourned his passing so deeply.
A touching poem was read out in honour of Jones, penned by his friend, writer, Chris Driscoll.
"Hold Him tenderly, O'Mother India
For he was Our favourite son
Place gently the zinc white ash on his resting forehead
Anoint him in Linseed oil
Place old willow by his side
We wait for him, for his return.
No full breath drawn
Shallow gasps and disbelief
This force of nature, impervious to all assault
But not our grief
Stumps are called
The bails removed
Player 324, no more to prove
Zinc cream, his baggy green
The Ashes Tests
Champion of Champions
Now lay him to his rest
As we hold him tenderly in our hearts forever."
Originally published as Deano's final farewell: One last lap of the MCG