The day - 7th August 2006, Monday.
Place - Premadasa cricket stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Match - Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 2nd test, day 4.
The "on air" comment - "The terrorist has got another wicket.."
The culprit - Former Australian middle order batsman (52 tests) and now (was) a well known commentator - Dean Jones.
Now to tell you honestly, I was about to write an article on the best commentators in International cricket right now, and I always wanted to rate Australian - Dean Jones very highly in that. In fact, Dean Jones was the reason who inspired me with his "aggressive and entertaining" cricket commentary in the period of last one year, while doing the commentary for Tensports as Indian team played in Pakistan, against England and then in West Indies.
But today, when Sri Lanka were going great guns while chasing a fourth innings winning target of 352, commentator Dean Jones regularly shifted sides as he openly supported Sri Lanka at the start. Then South Africa got their first wicket.... Dean Jones said he was disappointed but was still supporting Sri Lanka.
In came Kumar Sangakkara and along with Sanath Jayasuriya, he started to send South African fast bowlers all round the colombo stadium... And then -
Another OVER-confident shot from Kumar Sangakkara. Result - caught nicely by Hashim Amla at point.
Dean Jones (with mike in his hand) blurted out - "THE TERRORIST HAS GOT ANOTHER WICKET".
The live pictures of channel - Tensports were not only reaching my television in India, but also miles away in South Africa, where cricket lovers were intensely watching that South Africa - Sri Lanka test match. Result - The switchboards of both Cricket South Africa and SuperSport, which takes a feed of the broadcast to South African audiences, were jammed with calls from some very angry people.
Next - Gerald Majola, the cricket South Africa's chief executive, made an offical statement to Tensports about the comments that commentator Dean Jones had made about South African batsman/fielder - Hashim Amla.
Final result - Dean Jones was spotted at Colombo Airport where he was waiting for his flight... on his way back to Australia.
Here's some more comments from Dean Jones after that incidence - "I'm gone, I'm on the 1 a.m. flight," . "It was a silly and completely insensitive thing to say and, obviously, it was never supposed to be heard over the air. I am truly sorry to have caused offence to anybody and the last thing I intended was to be disrespectful. "Everyone needs to get away from perpetuating the myth, publicly and privately, that beards associated with the Muslim faith are somehow suspicious, and I intend to do exactly that. The irony is that I am great friends with most of the Pakistan team and they are all Muslims.
"I have no end of respect for the Muslim faith - that's why I'm so sorry at making such a stupid comment," he said. "It does not represent who I am, how I think or what I believe. I will be the first person to apologise to Hashim as soon as I get the chance, and I will assure him that prejudice against anybody, on any basis, is unacceptable and not something I will ever condone."
Two notes :-
1. Hashim Amla is a devout Muslim who wears a beard for religious reasons and has successfully negotiated with the South African team's main sponsors, SA Breweries, not to wear the Castle Lager logo on his playing and practice gear.
2. In April 2004, former Manchester United soccer manager Ron Atkinson resigned from his analyst's job with ITV after a racist comment he made about Chelsea's black French international defender Marcel Desailly was inadvertently broadcast.
Okk, so how you know the full story of what happened at Colombo today. To tell you honestly again, I may still write that article on best cricket commentators, and might still include Dean Jones in that. I loved him when he used to do the in depth analysis and showed we cricket viewers some points that most of other cricket commentators usually missed.
But then, its been around 10 hours since that incident happened, and being in India, I know that there is still little over an hour to go before 1 AM in Sri Lanka. I truly believe that Dean Jones deserves it and I hope to never hear again from him.
I'LL MISS HIM..