This interview was first published on Rediff.com on December 28, 2003. It is being republished in remembrance of Dean Jones, a fine cricketer and a cricket guru who sadly passed into the ages in Mumbai on September 24.
Former Australian batting star Dean Jones finished a 31 day walk from Sydney to Melbourne on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test. He covered 1,100 km and helped raise a million Australian dollars for the Bone Marrow Donor Institute.
Jones and his wife Jane walked 40 km each day and achieved what he said was the toughest thing he had ever done.
"Even the 200 I scored in the Chennai Test (on September 18 and 19, 1986) was simple compared to this," Jones told Rediff.com's Faisal Shariff in a telephone conversation. "That took me two days to get. This went on for 31 days."
With India faring surprisingly well Down Under, Jones believes it is time the vaunted Indian batting line-up walks the talk and draws the Melbourne Test.
"The ball is in India's court now," he said. "Two months ago if I would have asked (Sourav) Ganguly if he would take 2-27 at the end of Day 3 in the third Test, 1 zip up, or would he rather be 2 zip down, we all know what he would have said.
"It is now up to Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar to bat four sessions and draw this game. I doubt they can win from here, but a draw would be a good result for them. They have done tremendously well on the tour."
Jones rubbished all talk about Tendulkar's slump being a major worry for India.
"The guy has played just five Tests all year and had some rough decisions," he pointed out. "Even in the earlier series in Australia (in 1999-2000), when he came out to bat he got three rough decisions and yet managed to average 50 plus. He is an out-and-out champion."
"I don't even reckon he is going through a rough patch. The Australians are just knocking him over before he gets any time in there. I am not worried at all for him.
"But if he has to show what a champion he is and if India would want him to bat for his life, it has to be tomorrow."
Jones said he would advise Tendulkar to keep things simple. "In Australia we have the KISS method -- Keep It Simple, Stupid. I would want him to take 10 minutes at a time, a short step at a time. He should aim to bat for short periods of time. Bat for 10 minutes, then another 10 minutes, and keep going. Once Tendulkar gets to 40, we all know what he is capable of doing."
Jones also trashed the Australian bowling bench strength.
"Australia's dismal outing in this series is the (result of the) absence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. The bowling this series has been simply bad. McGrath and Warne have higher strike rates in Australia than anywhere else and once you take Jason Gillespie out of the attack, it shows up all the other bowlers. There is more pressure on Stuart MacGill and Brett Lee."
Jones said the current Australian bowling attack is nowhere near as good as the original. "Brad Williams and Nathan Bracken are young kids who have been asked to stand up against the best batting lineup in the world," he said. "Once Steve Waugh retires, Australia will surely struggle."
Jones anointed India and Pakistan contenders for the top spot in world cricket in the years to come.
"India is showing great promise and potential," he said. "Pakistan has enormous natural talent, are well led, and have a great coach in Javed Miandad. The next India-Pakistan series promises to be a ripper. Australia will be threatened by these sides in the next few years."
A prolific number three batsman himself, Jones believes the number three batsmen in this series, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid, have made it absorbing and competitive.
"The number 3 position is pivotal," he said. "He is the lynchpin of the team. If a team's number three batter is doing well, you can take it for granted that the team is doing well.
"Ponting and Dravid are class players and have adapted brilliantly to the position. A number three batsman needs to be an opener with the skills to attack the bowling and score at six-seven an over. He should be able to come in at 120-1 and attack and also be able to bat for time if the team loses early wickets."
Jones also gave credit to the Indian openers and skipper Sourav Ganguly for the team's good showing. "The openers (Akash Chopra and Virender Sehwag) have done their homework very well," he said. "They have been taking more singles and adding to the scoreboard consistently. Ganguly's early success shut many mouths in Australia.
"India's strength is batting and it is under attack right now. It is time to stand up and be counted."