That’s it. Back to reality, Back to nine-to-five. It’ll be a change, that’s for sure.
I’ll probably bring the BBL07 medal to work. Yeah, bloody oath I will. I’ll probably wear the champions hat as well, and I might even go in my full kit.
I’m sure they missed me at work. I’ve got a really cool team at the Department of Agriculture in Canberra. It’s just like a cricket team. We all get on really well, and we do good work together. They’ve always supported me in cricket and what I do, and I do enjoy my job. I wouldn’t have been there for 10 years if I didn’t enjoy it.
It’s been quite difficult at times while I’ve been playing cricket. I haven’t always been able to give my all to my work, which I’ll have to do at some stage. But I’m looking forward to getting back there to see everyone. I’m sure they’ll have a few questions for me.
I never thought I’d get one Big Bash game, let alone 20-something. To throw a title on that, wow. No words. I’d say I’ve already got 100 percent more out of cricket than I dreamed.
I guess I came into professional cricket quite late. I tried when I was younger, but it didn’t quite work out for me the way I thought it would. I actually gave up the game when I was 19 or 20 for a good couple of years, and only started playing cricket again when I moved to Canberra.
I’m a country lad. I grew up in Bathurst and had the childhood dream of playing cricket for New South Wales and Australia. That’s why I came to Sydney. I played for St George for a few years and did quite well in my first season of first grade. But then things didn’t quite work out the way I thought they would.
The club helped me find a warehouse job while I was playing cricket in Sydney. I was driving a fork out the back. It was great fun. I was a bit of a gun on the forklift, lifting big boxes off the top of racks four or five metres high. It was quite scary, but it was great fun for a kid.
But I went through a tough period. I was nicking balls for fun in my last season and just finding ways to get out. I also wasn’t enjoying the city. For a young fella who was away from his family, it just got a bit much. I had to make a change.
My brother was living down in Canberra at the time, as were a couple of really close mates from school. One of them was a recruitment agent in Canberra and she got me a 12-month contract in the public service in the department of Education, Science and Training.
During that time a job came up with the department of Agriculture, which is where I’ve worked ever since.
I wasn’t playing cricket at all when I first moved to Canberra, but one day I was playing footy with my mates, just a bit of a kick around, and we were having a few beers at the pub afterwards and they introduced me to a guy who played for Queanbeyan. I’d been talking about getting back into cricket, and it all just snowballed from there.
Wow, that was worth all the blood, sweat and tears! (and that’s just from me trying to keep these two in line) It’s been 5 weeks since the boys have seen their dad @JonoDean33 - looking forward to having you home with some extra silverware x @StrikersBBL #strikeforce #BBL2017 pic.twitter.com/GsZb6CLpym
— Kimberley Dean (@KimDean28) February 4, 2021
THE PHONE CALL I NEVER EXPECTED
Pretty quickly, I got into the ACT Comets squad. I played a lot of second XI cricket for the Comets but never really made it further. I was lucky enough to be 12th man back in 2008 when the PM’s XI played Sri Lanka, and another local player played in the XI. I never thought I’d get another crack.
Then in 2013, when I was 28, I was selected for the PM’s XI game against the West Indies at Manuka. It was such a great opportunity. In the past, local players wouldn’t generally get the opportunity to bat in that top order. But Mark Higgs, who was the Comets coach at the time, obviously thought I deserved a game and he backed me. When my name got put forward, I discovered I was opening the batting and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, how good’s this?’
The thing about T20 cricket is you can still play a part with a score of 19 off eight.
It was an unbelievable experience. I opened the batting with Usman Khawaja. He said at the start, ‘Just enjoy it.’ Punter was the captain that day and he said the same thing. I made 51 off 35 balls.
I was pretty happy with smacking the West Indies around with the PM’s XI. Then Strikers coach Darren Berry called me the next day and I was like, “Holy shit!’
I can’t remember his exact words but it was basically, ‘We want someone who’s going to come in and take the game on in the top order.’ He obviously saw something in me that he liked, and I was reasonably cheap as well.
I was paid $20 grand. That’s the minimum contract for a bottom tier player. But it was beyond my dreams. I would have played for free just to get the opportunity. For me, $20 grand, I thought, ‘Jesus Christ, that’s all right. Six weeks away from home, I get to play some cricket, how good’s that?’
HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD
I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to Adelaide, but it’s been pretty cool. Getting one Big Bash gig would have been good enough. I didn’t expect to play any Big Bash or any professional cricket at all. But it’s been five years now with the Strikers. I never thought I’d get five seasons.
I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to play any game in the Big Bash. I’ve had to be adaptable and play different roles. I keep saying to Dizz, ‘I’m happy to bat 11 if I have to.’
It would have been nice to know I’m going to open the batting, but it’s never happened for me that way, which is fine. I’ve had to fight and scrap to get my opportunity, and for me, it’s just about doing all the little things right, trying to help out as much as I can around the group, being busy and helpful and training hard.
I was paid $20 grand. That’s the minimum contract for a bottom tier player. But it was beyond my dreams. I would have played for free just to get the opportunity.
It’s fair to say I’ve played my share of cameos, where I’ve looked pretty good early in my innings but not really gone on with it. I try to play my own game, which is a high risk/high reward game. It would have been nice to get 70 off 30 in the semi against the Renegades when I was out for 19 off eight balls, but I was bloody trying!
The thing about T20 cricket is you can still play a part with a score of 19 off eight. What that did was it allowed Weaths and Heady to not go in under pressure. Me going at 10 an over from the start meant they could take a few balls to get going without the scoreboard pressure.
And that’s what they did. They took that little bit of extra time and then started smacking them.
It would’ve been nice to open again in the final but that’s the way it goes. Carey was back from Australian duty and that’s been my Big Bash life unfortunately, knowing that you’re teetering on that edge most of the time. I understand my place in the grand scheme.
Not that I’m fine with it. I’d rather be in and know that I’m in because I’m doing well, but unfortunately I’ve never quite done well enough I guess to be that person.
The best part of the final for me was being in the change rooms and celebrating afterwards, throwing beer everywhere and just knowing that we’d won.
When things sort of died down a little bit and the change rooms started to filter out, we moved out to the centre of the ground and all just sat in a circle on the ground and just chatted and played a bit of music, all in our kit still. This was about 10:30pm, and just sitting around talking about the last couple of months was quite a cool experience.
The Adelaide Oval is an unbelievable ground to play on, and when it’s empty it’s quite nice as well. I probably can’t talk about what we did after that … nah, we went out and had a few beers and danced and laughed and yeah, it was a good night.
No matter what, I’m part of a championship team. We’ve got the BBL07 medal and a champions hat, and that’s all I need.
You go into each Big Bash hoping that you’ll give yourself a chance to win the title, and this season everyone had written us off because apparently we had a shit list. But we had a really good bunch of people.
— Jono Dean (@JonoDean33) February 4, 2021
I’M SURE HE’LL UNDERSTAND ONE DAY
I hope I can go around again. I’m 33-years-old now and the body’s good, I’m still as fit as I’ve ever been. I had a few niggly shoulder issues this year but they’ll be fixed within a few months, and if I have another opportunity to go around whether it’s with the Strikers or another franchise, I’d be happy to continue giving my all.
I might have to chat with my wife Kim first. She plays a pretty significant role in the decisions that I make. She does an unbelievable job in ensuring that things run smoothly through the year, so that I can do what I need to do. Things can be tough at times, but she’s really the rock and I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.
Kim came over for the semi-final on Friday night, two days before the final. She wanted to stay for the final, but I was like, ‘I’m not sure Nixon would like that,’ and I convinced her to jump on a plane and go home and be with our sons Nixon and Arlo.
The day after the final was Nixon’s first day of school. I’m sure one day when he’s old enough, he’ll understand why I couldn’t be there.
Jono Dean - Contributor