Returns home in disgrace after being sacked by TEN Sports

MELBOURNE: Australian cricketer-turned commentator Dean Jones returned home in disgrace on Tuesday after being sacked by his TV employers for calling a South African Muslim player a ``terrorist'' during a Test match in Sri Lanka.

Jones said ``the terrorist has got another wicket'' when the bearded Hashim Amla took a catch to dismiss Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara during the fourth day's play of the second Test in Colombo on Monday.

Broadcaster TEN Sports, the Dubai-based TV company covering the series, sent the former Australian batsman home after a complaint from Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Gerald Majola.

Moment of madness

A contrite Jones, who will reportedly keep his commentary position on Australian radio, described his moment of madness to reporters after landing in his hometown of Melbourne.

``I waited four or five seconds and I just turned around and made a stupid, ridiculous off-the-wall comment that unfortunately was picked up in the background and, as television people always know, the microphone is always live,'' Jones said.

However, he also appeared to suggest there was an element of bad luck to the affair, adding: ``There was only one country in the world that didn't take the ad break live and that was South Africa. It was picked up by a few viewers.'' Jones, 45, said he had written a full-page apology to Amla and the South African team, as well as saying sorry to the bowler directly.

``I got hold of Amla and I spoke to him for a certain amount of time,'' he said. ``I gave him my sincerest apologies and he was gracious enough to accept it.

``He said `I hope you get through this ugly situation that you are going through.'''

Earlier, Jones told reporters in Colombo that he respected the Muslim faith and said: ``The irony is that I am great friends with most of the Pakistan team and they are all Muslims.''

Contract terminated

TEN Sports said it had terminated Jones's contract as a freelance commentator believed to be worth $400-1,000 per match day and had apologised to both the cricket community and its million of viewers over the outburst.

However, Melbourne commercial radio station 3AW reportedly had no such qualms, saying the controversy would not affect plans to use Jones as a commentator for upcoming internationals Down Under, which include the Ashes against England.

``What happened in Sri Lanka would not have any bearing on what he'll be doing with us,'' 3AW programme director Clark Forbes told smh.com.au.

In New Delhi, former tennis great Vijay Amritraj commenting on the issue said racism and personal insults had no place in broadcasting.

``Such kind of comments and remarks cannot be allowed for commentators and there is no way what Jones said can be condoned,'' said Amritraj, who himself has taken to broadcasting.

``As mediapersons we have a responsibility towards the viewers and listeners and we should desist from making such comments,'' the former Indian Davis Cup captain said.

Caution needed

Amritraj said commentators needed to be all the more careful these days as most sports events were telecast live.

``In live telecasts, there is no chance of editing and what is said gets to the whole world. Hence, one should think before opening his or her mouth.''

However, the tennis ace did not think there was any need for a code of conduct for commentators. Agencies

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