CANBERRA cricketer Jono Dean vividly remembers the phone call that changed his life. Admittedly, it was only five years ago, but plenty has happened since then.
It was the day after the PM’s XI in 2013. Still on a high after hitting 51 off 35 balls against the West Indies at Manuka, the coach of the Adelaide Strikers Big Bash team, Darren Berry, made that life-changing call.
Berry invited Dean to join the Strikers’ squad for the third season of the T20 competition, which had, in its first two years, taken the cricket world by storm.
Five seasons later Dean and his Adelaide teammates have emerged as the Big Bash champions for the first time. He didn’t get to bat in the final, but that means little in the context of team sport.
At 33, Jono Dean is now wondering if his role with the Strikers will evolve into a sixth season and, if it’s not Adelaide, could he be picked up by another team?
“It’s a waiting game, I have some people doing some work for me, we’ll see what happens. I am still keen to contribute in the Big Bash but I can’t do that unless I am part of a franchise,” he says.
To a certain extent it’s out of his hands, but he has the belief that age is not a factor.
“I do things smarter these days,” he says in reference to his fitness and recovery.
For the time being though, it is back to the reality of family life with wife Kimberley and his two kids and work at the Department of Agriculture.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. It could be likened to emerging from a reality television program after two months, back into the real world.
Jono probably describes it best: “It’s been two months in a bubble with some really good people having a really good time. All of a sudden you go from waking up at 10 in the morning before heading to the gym, to waking up at seven to go to work.”
Not that he begrudges his job at the Department of Agriculture, far from it. From what I can gather, he likens it to being part of a sporting team; strong in team spirit, culture and work ethic, with everybody making a contribution.
In the past he has gone back to work almost the day after the Big Bash has finished. This time around, after learning from past experience, he took a break before returning full-tilt into reality. He spent quality time with his family, after constantly being on the road with the competition for five weeks. It’s a time that he missed being with his wife and two boys.
“It was tough to adjust. I was away for two months. It’s playing in a competition, which a lot of people around Australia are keenly watching on television, so I have to be able to answer questions from people who are keen to interact and discuss cricket.
“Once it’s over I get to see people I haven’t seen for a while.”
In the past he says he came back to earth with a bit of a thud.
“In the first couple of years I struggled with the contrast, but I think I have learnt from experience, taking that little bit extra time to return to routine and spend some time with the kids at home and then ease back into work a week or so later rather than diving back into reality. It can be quite a shock.”
So to the future and the waiting game continues: “I would never have dreamt of playing five seasons in the Big Bash so to tick it off this year has been fantastic.”
You get the impression he would be keen to keep playing well beyond next season if remotely possible. But for the time being, life continues as part of two other important teams at home and work.