By far one of the world’s greatest sportsmen of the 20th century, late former South African cricket team captain Hansie Cronje would have celebrated his 44th birthday last Sunday (29 September). His first stint at professional cricket was to my fascination just a month before I was born back in January 1988 with his debut for Orange Free State against Transvaal in Johannesburg. Even though scandals of match fixing had dented his image to the extreme, he still will be remembered by many as a hero for both the incredible work he has done as a leader in SA cricket and for manning up to what he most probably believed was the biggest mistake of his life. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of pressure he was constantly under as the Protea’s captain as he had to answer to everyone who naturally felt they own a part of him as citizens of our country. Despite all of this he still had an excellent run as the captain and was one of the most respected captains by his colleagues some of whom believe genuinely that they owe their careers to this great man. Cricket clearly ran in Hansie’s bloodline as his father Ewie also played for the Orange Free State in the 60’s with his brother Frans also having played first class cricket.
Without a doubt the most interesting time of Hansie Cronje’s life would have to be when it came out that he had been allegedly involved in match fixing and negatively influenced some of his team mates’ performances. Most probably the biggest scandal of all time in South African cricket it became very clear from the onset what the potential outcome would be when the story first broke. In April 2000 existence of a recording of a telephone conversation between Cronje and Sanjay Chawla who was involved in an Indian betting syndicate about match fixing allegations was revealed by the Dehli Police. Other SA cricketers who were implicated included Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom and this ultimately led to Hansie Cronje being banned for life from cricket by the King commission. Unfortunately just over two years after the revelation of the match fixing scandal, Hansie was killed in a plane crash on June 1st 2013 when he had hitched an aircraft and was the only passenger aboard from Johannesburg to George.
I personally believe that he’s gone too early as I know he still had so much more to offer our country and the Cricket or sports fraternity as a whole. His legacy definitely lives on and in the hearts of many South Africans he lives. His life should be forever celebrated and his bravery to stand up to his mistakes should be an example to many others of what the implications and long term outcomes of such decisions can be. Lala Ngoxolo Hansie (RIP Hansie).
BY: Zuko ZOOX Nomnganga
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