Ex-crick­eter in main­te­nance row

The ex-wife of a well-known crick­eter who took him to court over main­te­nance opens up about their mar­riage and the messy fall-out af­ter their di­vorce


SHE could never un­der­stand it. On the cricket pitch her hus­band was al­ways the pic­ture of calm. Noth­ing – not even the heck­ling of a foul-mouthed Aussie or an un­playable de­liv­ery from one of the world’s best fast bowlers – could rat­tle him. But as soon as he ar­rived home it was like a switch flipped.

“I never knew what to ex­pect when he walked into the house and in what mood he’d be,” Sonja* says. For the sake of their kids she was de­ter­mined to make their volatile mar­riage work but af­ter more than two decades it all came to an end.

Sonja hoped the split would bring an end to all the rows and bit­ter­ness but she was in for a nasty sur­prise. The big fight re­ally started only af­ter their di­vorce a few years ago as she strug­gled to get her ex to pay up to sup­port her and their two kids.

Be­cause it’s an on­go­ing main­te­nance is­sue YOU can’t re­veal the names of the crick­eter or his ex-wife. But she’s speak­ing to us hop­ing to make other di­vorced women aware of the games some men play to avoid their le­gal obli­ga­tions.

She claims that even though her for­mer hus­band’s business has done well he was re­luc­tant to pay her what he should have.

“He never paid on time – mostly he didn’t pay at all,” Sonja says. “I lay awake at night try­ing to fig­ure out how to keep my house­hold go­ing. I’ve had to bor­row money from friends to stay afloat.”

She even­tu­ally sued him for main­te­nance and a court re­cently found in her favour. The re­tired crick­eter has been given 24 months to pay all over­due main­te­nance – and if he of­fends again in the next three years he could face a year be­hind bars or be hit with a hefty fine.

Sonja says it wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion to take the fa­ther of her chil­dren to court but even­tu­ally she didn’t have a choice.

“I needed to main­tain my rep­u­ta­tion and cred­it­wor­thi­ness. At the be­gin­ning of this year I had to take out a stu­dent loan for one of our chil­dren.”

She wel­comes the court’s ver­dict but says it’s not the end of the story.

“He’s sub­poe­naing me and my el­dest child at the mo­ment.”

Ap­par­ently he’s hop­ing to ap­peal to the court to re­duce his main­te­nance pay­ments as well as what he owes for the older child’s ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

“He never paid his kids’ school fees nor our el­dest’s var­sity fees. When I con­fronted him he said he never ap­proved our child’s cho­sen course of study.”

When YOU ap­proached the crick­eter about the on­go­ing main­te­nance is­sue as well as Sonja’s claims about their tu­mul­tuous mar­riage he de­clined to com­ment.

His only re­sponse was to point out a clause in their orig­i­nal di­vorce pa­pers stip­u­lat­ing one party isn’t al­lowed to speak to the me­dia with­out the other’s per­mis­sion. Sonja’s re­sponse is that the same di­vorce pa­pers also con­tain a clause stip­u­lat­ing his re­spon­si­bil­ity to pay main­te­nance. And, she says, he’s been quite will­ing to re­nege on that.

THERE was never much ro­mance be­tween them, Sonja says, not even in the very be­gin­ning. They’d known each other for only three months when he moved over­seas to play cricket. When he was abroad his softer side seemed to come out and he wrote her the most beau­ti­ful let­ters while he was away, she re­calls.

They got mar­ried a few months af­ter his re­turn to South Africa but their mar­riage was stormy from the start, she says.

De­spite the up­heavals at home he was al­ways con­trolled and re­served in pub­lic, Sonja adds. “For ex­am­ple, he’d never hold my hand. Look­ing back, I see many dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties in him.”

She says af­ter his re­tire­ment from cricket she’d some­times watch him on TV calmly dis­cussing the game he’d ded­i­cated his life to and think, “Is this the man liv­ing in our home?”

De­spite set­tling on main­te­nance when they di­vorced, he later took her to court sev­eral times to try to lower the amount the court had de­cided on, she says.

Ac­cord­ing to Sonja, her ex has used ev­ery trick in the book to slow down the le­gal pro­cesses be­tween them.

“At first he said he didn’t have money for main­te­nance. Then he had him­self se­ques­trated. Al­most ev­ery time we were due to ap­pear in court he’d change at­tor­neys or show up at court the next day say­ing he’d got the date wrong.”

Hav­ing to go back to court con­stantly has neg­a­tively af­fected her ca­reer. “And with all the law­suits I’ve al­most been bankrupted by lawyers’ fees.”

Over the years she’s had to come up with plan af­ter plan to sup­port her fam­ily.

She re­calls her el­dest child once asked her why she’d ever mar­ried his fa­ther. “I told him I’d thought at the time he’d be a good dad and never cheat on me.

“A few years ago my el­dest started re­fus­ing to see his dad. He told me, ‘Mom, do you know what it feels like to know Dad is my fa­ther?’ That re­ally got to me.

“It’s ex­tremely hard for me and my kids. My youngest now also re­fuses to see his fa­ther. He’s told me see­ing his dad is too painful for him.”

SONJA says al­though both her kids are good at sport they’ve de­vel­oped a psy­cho­log­i­cal block to­ward it. “My el­dest was good at ten­nis but his fa­ther in­ter­fered so much with the coaches and ref­er­ees that our child be­came ashamed and stopped play­ing. My ex-hus­band put so much pres­sure on him that my child started hat­ing that sport.”

Her jour­ney so far hasn’t been easy and she can’t see any light at the end of the tun­nel.

Sonja says liv­ing in this constant state of bit­ter­ness and tur­moil has left psy­cho­log­i­cal scars she doubts she’ll ever over­come.

“The dam­age has been done,” she says. “I’ve been left emo­tion­ally numb. I don’t have any feel­ing left. I can see when some­thing’s beau­ti­ful but I can’t feel it any­more.

“When I get an­gry about some­thing I recog­nise that I’m an­gry but I don’t feel it. It’s the same when I’m sad or happy. I have no feel­ing.” *Not her real name.

‘At first he said he didn’t have money for main­te­nance. Then he had him­self se­ques­trated’

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