In January this year, Mel Jones was presented with one of Australia’s highest honours; the Medal of the Order of Australia for services towards cricket and the community.
“To receive an Order of Australia for me is in a lot of ways, a reflection of my mum and my family and how I’ve been brought up,” Jones said.
“And moving forward, hopefully that means I can then pass that on to people around me as well. I’d love to be able to nominate many, many more people in the future.”
Jones, 46, played 66 times for Australia over a decorated career, which included two World Cup and Ashes crowns. Upon her retirement, she also sat third on the WNCL’s highest run-scorers, with 3,338 runs.
Since retiring, Jones has entered the media, holding various positions across the globe as a full-time commentator.
“I was really lucky. I played, I think, in one of the best eras of women’s cricket in terms of the talent pool,” Jones said.
“I know that the girls now are doing amazingly well at the moment, but what they did with no financial support – and the likes of Belinda Clark, Karen Rolton, Catherine Fitzpatrick - just really set the tone for a lot of the culture in the way the Australian team plays now.
“They were some of the world’s best players. These were the women and the leaders I was around. So yes some people might see me as that pioneer but you’re feeding off other people like that around you.”
Away from the field, Jones has been looked upon as a forerunner of women’s sport, championing inclusion and equality.
I want to make it (sport) as inclusive as possible for everybody and it has been shut off to a lot of people for a very, very long time.Mel Jones OAM
“You’d be silly not to understand your place in the sport and how you’ve helped it,” Jones said.
“I’d like to be able to think that I’m a voice for the other people within the sporting community or cricket community that may not get that chance to speak up and be listened to.
“I want to make it (sport) as inclusive as possible for everybody and it has been shut off to a lot of people for a very, very long time.
“The influence for me is the conversation more than anything else. The history of sport has predominately come off a men’s history.
“Women’s sport is now getting that opportunity but it’s being directed in a lot of sense by the guys who have directed men’s sport. Now who’s to say that’s the best pathway to go or we can’t create a new space? And allow those females voices in those sport to be heard which I think will shift things.
“And I suppose that flexibility is something that my voice can hopefully ask so that cricket is a whole.”
Whoever nominated Jones for the Order of Australia has remained anonymous. However, despite her suspicions, this person would be well aware of her achievements in the community.
Aside from the role pioneering change and inclusivity in the women’s game, Jones has worked as a teacher and is now an ambassador for Red Dust, which is a health promotion charity that works with Indigenous kids.
“I take it from the community side of things as a number of different areas as well,” she said.
“I’ve been quite heavily involved with Red Dust which is a health promotion charity that works with Indigenous kids, so not just in terms of the cricket community but sport, women’s sport and a bit with Red Dust as well.”