I wasn’t going to write anything about Wessel Johannes ‘Hansie’ Cronje.
What more could be said about such an ironic and sensational end to the
rather tragic and turbulent life that became Hansie Cronje’s. What a field day for the media. The obvious question was: Would he be remembered for his cricketing achievements or his involvement in the incredible scandal which brought cricket into shame?
I think that in time the answer is both but the scandal will take
prominence. The match fixing scandal rocked the cricketing world and the truth is that only the surface was scratched by numerous half-baked
enquiries around the world. Cronje was by no means the only player
involved. Several others such as Salim Malik and Wasim Akram were also
punished but none so publicly. And it is almost certain that many, many more players avoided detection and punishment.
I’ve included brief stats on Cronje’s career – I note that the news is
fairly light on those details. What a surprise! Cronje played 68 Tests for South Africa, 54 of those as captain. His leadership qualities were noted early, he was made captain after only 14 matches (replacing Kepler Wessels) and lead South Africa during and a time when they were powerful in both Test and One-Day cricket, with Australia being the only team that they couldn’t dominate.
As a batsman who bowled useful medium pacers, his results were actually
pretty average. He made 3714 runs at 36.41, scoring 23 fifties and just 6 centuries. His highest score was 135 and he was generally seen as a batsman who “didn’t go on with it”. He took 43 wickets at a respectable 29.95 with best figures of 3/14, which is quite respectable. Perhaps he was a little under bowled as result of being captain.
Cronje was busted big time – they found tens of thousands of $US under his bed! That being said, he came forth and divulged all, showed genuine remorse and endured massive public criticism. He was banned from his livelihood for life. Through all of that he maintained the support of his wife and family and was in the process of rebuilding his life when it suddenly ended.
Maybe I’m growing less cynical in my old age but although he made big
mistakes I think that Hansie may have died with a clear conscience!