|Dean Jones (top), Hashim Amla
Durban, Aug. 7 (Reuters): Former Australian Test player Dean Jones was sacked from his job as a commentator today after referring to South African batsman Hashim Amla as a “terrorist”.
Jones, who admitted making the comment and apologised, was on a TV commentary team covering the second Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Colombo.
According to a statement issued by Cricket South Africa today, viewers heard Jones say “the terrorist has got another wicket” when Amla took the catch that dismissed Kumar Sangakkara.
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.
“We take the strongest exception to this comment, and we will lodge an official complaint with the host broadcaster, TEN Sports, that employs him,” CSA chief executive Gerald Majola was quoted as saying.
“We will be asking for his immediate suspension and a full apology.”
The match is being broadcast live in South Africa, which has a significant Muslim community.
“The switchboards of both CSA and SuperSport, that takes a feed of the broadcast to South African audiences, have been jammed with calls from some very angry people,” Majola was quoted as saying.
“I’m gone, I’m on the 1 am flight,” Jones told reporters in Colombo where he issued a statement apologising for his comment.
“It was a silly and completely insensitive thing to say and, obviously, it was never supposed to be heard over the air,” Jones said.
“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.
“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.”
The CSA statement said the incident would be reported to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“The ICC has strongly condemned racism and we will be discussing the matter with them,” Majola was quoted as saying.
Jones, 45, played 52 Tests for Australia between 1984 and 1992 with a batting average of 46.55.
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.