Elton John’s private email to Bing after mate Deano died
Brett Lee placed his right arm around Dean Jones and smiled for the camera.
Bored in isolation, the Aussie greats pressed 'play' on some Elton John classics to pass the time.
Both had strummed up friendships with the music icon and so Lee suggested they send Elton a selfie from their Mumbai hotel.
"We sent him a nice photo of Deano and I to say, 'Mate, we're thinking of you and hoping to catch up with you soon'," Lee told News Corp.
Jones, 59, posed with two thumbs up. He wore a vibrant blue shirt and disarming smile.
A few days later Jones was dead after he collapsed in the same Mumbai hotel on September 24.
Lee - whose room was one cricket pitch length away from Jones' - heroically attempted CPR and twice breathed colour back into Jones' face.
But Jones was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and pronounced dead - just hours after exercising in the hotel gym and eating breakfast with New Zealander Scott Styris.
"The situation that I found myself in was a horrific one, and one you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy," Lee said.
"It was the most confronting, scariest moment that I've ever been a part of in my life.
"You're seeing someone go through the worst time in their life, and you've just got to do something at the spur of the moment.
"But unfortunately for Deano, there was nothing that could've been done to bring him back to life."
A distraught Lee had to make the call to Jones' wife, Janey.
"That was the most horrific thing," Lee said.
"To lose a close mate and then have to call his wife, I mean you don't get any worse combo than that.
"That was the toughest thing I've ever had to do in my life."
The Australian and Indian coroners have both concurred that Jones passed away from a catastrophic stroke.
The family is awaiting the final coroner's report.
Jones will be honoured at the MCG on Boxing Day, the tributes continuing to flow like runs off the proud Victorian's bat.
Elton John was one of the first, posting the selfie of Lee and Jones to his 3.2 million followers on Instagram on September 25.
Nathan Lyon and Kevin Pietersen both 'liked' the post. Then, a private email from Elton lobbed in Lee's inbox.
YOUR BOXING DAY TV SPECIAL
Australia v India: Second Test at the MCG
* Live coverage starts on Fox Cricket and Kayo from 9.30am on Saturday.
* Don't miss Brett Lee speak as part of the Dean Jones tribute during the tea break on day one.
* Watch every ball of the Australia-India series live with no ad-breaks during play on Fox Cricket and Kayo.
The friendship between Jones and Elton dated back to the 1980s, and Lee said it was no surprise the larger than life cricketer hit it off with the larger than life rock star.
"Deano was the showman," Lee said.
"He was the guy that put bums on seats. He was the entertainer and he was the flamboyant character that didn't mind speaking his mind.
"He was the first guy to wear sunglasses on the cricket field. You think now why wouldn't you wear sunglasses while you play cricket and stand in the sun for six hours?
"It makes sense. That's why people gravitate towards someone like Dean Jones, and that's probably the same with Elton.
"Elton saw this guy on TV who was energetic, who was athletic, who was an entertainer - not too dissimilar to what he does in his own field.
"It's amazing how many sporting people would love to be musos, and vice-versa.
"Elton John's a massive sports fan, in particular cricket, you think about guys like Mick Jagger who you'd always see at Lord's."
Lee knows how level-headed Elton John is.
In 2006 The Rocket Man and the man with the rocket arm dined for lunch in Sydney.
"When you first walk in and you're meeting Elton John it's like, 'Wow, this is crazy'," Lee said.
"But then you just realise he's such a down to earth person who just loves his sport.
"We'd been playing Sri Lanka and he said, 'That ball you got Mahela Jayawardene out where you went wide at the crease and swung it back in, mate that was the ball of the summer'.
"When you've got absolute music royalty penning a tribute to one of Australia's finest cricketers, it's pretty amazing."
It has been 93 days since Jones passed and not one has gone by in which Lee hasn't grieved.
"Personally, it's tough," Lee said.
"I was the last one with him, among guys like Scott Styris as well. I did what anyone would do in that same situation.
"If that was me lying on the floor I'd expect one of my mates or some complete stranger to jump in and try their best.
"This whole situation, the hardest thing for me to still even process things is the fact that I still think it's a bit of a dream.
"I understand the reality of it and I understand the enormity of it, but it still feels like it isn't true.
"I'm still waiting for someone to go, 'It was a massive gee-up' or, 'We're joking' or 'Gotcha' type thing.
"I know that's not going to happen - but that's how it feels.
"You could understand someone getting to their 80s or 90s and they've lived a full life.
"They've had a fair crack at life. But 59 years of age … it's far too young."
Lee turned 44 last month. He also turned over his philosophy on life.
"We all complain … the Wi-Fi is slow, or I can't find the TV remote, or the traffic is horrendous," he said.
"I mean, who gives a rats? Seriously, who cares?
"You don't know whether you're a person that's going to live to 59 or 89 years of age, and it actually does make you appreciate life a lot more and not sweat on the small things."
Lee, Styris and Jones were in Mumbai covering the Indian Premier League for Star Sports.
At the TV network all the young Indians referred to Jones as 'Professor Deano'.
"You'd hear 'Professor, Professor, Professor'," Lee said.
"He passed away doing something that he absolutely loved - doing his analysis on cricket working at Star Sports.
"He had some weird and wacky ideas, and that's what made him who he was.
"But I tell you what, he had some bloody brilliant ideas as well."
With white-ball World Cups scheduled for 2021, 2022 and 2023, Australian coach Justin Langer was poised to tap into Jones' wisdom.
"We've had these mentors with Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey and that's when the seed was planted that he should come and do some work with our white-ball team," Langer told News Corp.
"Sadly, that didn't happen."
Langer last spoke to Jones over FaceTime, when he, Adam Gilchrist, Geoff Marsh and Tom Moody dialled into all corners of the globe to connect with the 1989 Ashes team.
"We got off the phone and just said he's such a great bloke," Langer said.
"He spoke his mind, he's really passionate about what he believes in and I really admire that."
When Shane Warne made his Test debut in 1992 he roomed with Jones.
"I was a Victorian and I came in in the late '80s and early '90s when Deano was flying," Warne told News Corp.
"He was my first roomie in my first Test match, so I got to know Deano pretty well.
"He was a guy who loved four things - his family, golf, Carlton Football Club and cricket."
Lee reckons Jones the cricketer was a generation ahead of his time.
Deano was born in Coburg in 1961. Imagine if, like David Warner, he was born in 1986?
"He would've been a multi, multi, multimillion-dollar player," Lee said.
"If Dean Jones was David Warner's age right now he'd be one of the best T20 cricketers in the world, if not the best.
"He had a rocket arm. He would throw from deep mid-off over the bowler's head to the keeper on the full at the MCG and the crowd goes wild.
"Then you look at the way he turned twos into threes, the way he'd be able to pinch quick singles, the way he'd take on a bowler and not give a second thought to who this bowler was.
"He'd just take them down and put the pressure straight on the bowler.
"Then you think of Dean Jones as more of a one-day flamboyant cricketer who wore the zinc on his lip.
"But then you look at his stats you go, 'Far out, he's up there with the best'.
"The stats are better these days for the modern cricketer, barring Don Bradman of course, because of the different rules and regulations and the bats are better and the boundaries are shorter."
Lee's ears have been tuned to CPR advice ever since that fatal lunchtime, and Jones' family is "eternally grateful" for Lee's sharp response.
"That's obviously why CPR and training is so important. As long as you do something it's better than nothing," he said.
"I'm hearing that everywhere now and am taking a lot more notice as to different CPR courses and defibrillators.
Lee, understandably, held on to his darkest memories.
Partly because it is private, and partly because he hasn't even had the chance to see Jones' family yet.
All Lee wanted for Christmas was a plane ticket to Melbourne to catch up with Janey, but Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak has kept him grounded.
"Because of this bloody COVID I can't fly down now," he said.
"I've done a couple of tests in the last eight or nine days and still unfortunately I've got to adhere to the protocols.
"I'm really upset that I can't go down to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test. I wanted to spend some time with Jane and the girls and catch up and have a bit of a toast to Deano.
"I will be doing it - it's just not Boxing Day, unfortunately.
"As soon as the restrictions open up again me and my wife are going to go down.
"Deano will be sorely, sorely missed,
"I'm so devastated for his family, and I'm so disappointed, shocked and angry at the fact he had to be taken at such a young age.
"He was just such a genuine guy."