Cor­nered, Cronje blamed the devil for his greedy na­ture

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

WHAT­EVER you might say about sports fans, they can be loyal be­yond rea­son.

This was no bet­ter ex­pressed in the pop­u­lar re­ac­tion to the dis­grace of Han­sie Cronje, the for­mer Grey Col­lege head boy from Bloem­fontein whose stel­lar cricket ca­reer crashed when he was banned from the game for life for his role in the match-fix­ing scan­dal. He blamed “the devil”. His bid to over­turn the rul­ing was dis­missed, and he died trag­i­cally in an air crash near Ge­orge in 2002, two years be­fore be­ing voted the 11th great­est South African in a pop­u­lar – thoughun­sci­en­tific – poll.

In mid-2000, it seemed ob­vi­ous there was noth­ing par­tic­u­larly great about him at all, as the fol­low­ing – edited – re­port re­veals.

The im­age of Han­sie Cronje, once the golden boy of South African cricket, is tar­nished af­ter three days of hear­ings at the King Com­mis­sion.

The for­mer cricket cap­tain – con­sid­ered to be merely dis­graced be­fore the com­mis­sion started – this week emerged as a ma­nip­u­la­tive in­flu­ence who took ad­van­tage of young play­ers who fol­lowed him.

The ev­i­dence pre­sented this week be­fore Judge Ed­win King has been dev­as­tat­ing.

Cronje’s once-revered rep­u­ta­tion has taken a beat­ing as he has ap­peared as a hyp­ocrite who lured vul­ner­a­ble play­ers into a web of de­ceit. The mounting ev­i­dence against him this week will be hard to re­fute.

Damn­ing tes­ti­mony came from one of the im­pres­sion­able young play­ers in his team, Her­schelle Gibbs.

Gibbs, ea­ger to care for his di­vorced mother, con­fessed to ac­cept­ing $15 000 (about R105 000) from Cronje to play poorly. Gibbs failed to go through with the scheme, but he seems to have sacri­ficed his ca­reer, to tell the truth.

Gibbs has been kicked out of the team and faces the prospect of a life ban, though he didn’t get any money.

Cronje’s his­tory with book­mak­ers seems to go back as far as 1995, when he ap­proached team­mate Pat Sym­cox about throw­ing a match at Newlands against Pak­istan. He was turned down and South Africa won.

Cronje has is­sued state­ments by way of a pas­tor, Ray McCauley of the Rhema Church. Cronje blamed Sa­tan for tempt­ing him.

Han­sie Cronje, for­mer SA cricket cap­tain. June 10, 2000 Han­sie’s slide from dis­grace to dis­gust

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