Cricket: Australia drop off-form Jones

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DEAN JONES may be one of the world's finest one-day batsmen, but the Australian selectors have evidently decided that his staying power is not what it was. To stress the point, they dropped him yesterday from their 12 for the second Test against West Indies, starting in Melbourne on Boxing Day.

Jones's inability to maintain the prolific form he showed in Sri Lanka, where he headed the Australian Test averages, has been traced in part to the disjointed nature of his country's domestic programme. After making only three visits to the crease in first-class cricket this winter - from which his return had been a dispiriting nine, 14 and one - Jones, who was demoted to 12th man for the drawn first Test in Brisbane, was due for some much-needed practice when Richie Richardson and his men came to Melbourne last weekend for a four-day match. The contest, however, was washed out.

Jones said he was 'devastated' and would not attend the match because 'it would hurt too much'. The former Durham player's berth in the Melbourne 12 goes to his fellow Victorian, leg-spinner Shane Warne, while the other change sees the New South Wales left-arm pace veteran, Mike Whitney, displace the injured Bruce Reid.

Allan Border emphasised his fitness with an unconquered 116 for Queensland in Brisbane yesterday against the touring Pakistanis. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have retained Arjuna Ranatunga as captain for the Test against England in March.