Ghost of Hansie hangs over Centurion

Hansie Cronje (Gallo Images)
Hansie Cronje (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa have won an impressive 15 of 20 Tests that they have played in Centurion since 1995, but they have yet to taste success against England...

The sides will meet on Friday in what will be there fifth meeting at SuperSport Park since 1995, with England having won one of those Tests while the other three were drawn. 

It is a record that bodes well for the visitors, but a closer look at the manner of their victory in January 2000 puts things into perspective somewhat. 

With the Proteas having clinched the five-Test series 2-0 heading into the 'dead rubber' final Test in Centurion, under the captaincy of Hansie Cronje, the Proteas reached 155/6 when play was called off on the opening day due to rain. 

There was no play at all on days 2, 3 and 4, but when the sides took to the field again on Day 5, Cronje had a plan (see scorecard below).

As respected cricket journalist Neil Manthorp later wrote in his Almanack report, on Cricinfo:

"History was made on the final day when a match apparently reduced to the deadliest of finishes, following three consecutive playless days, was brought back to life by the captains. For the first time in Test cricket, innings were forfeited and this produced a memorable, entertaining climax. When play resumed, with South Africa still in the first innings, the many hundreds of travelling English supporters and a few hundred hardy locals had every reason to expect the worst. What they were treated to was a gripping finale that saw England win with five balls and two wickets remaining.

Five months after the match, however, came the bitterness of deceit when Cronje, South Africa's captain, admitted receiving 53,000 rand (around £5,000) and a leather jacket from a bookmaker, who had urged him to initiate a positive result, rather than let the match peter out as a draw. At the King Commission inquiry into match-fixing, which opened in Cape Town in June, he insisted that his motives were "for the good of cricket", but the fact that financial reward formed a part of his motivation tainted the match for ever. History would also record that it was the first Test in which "fixing" was proven."

It was later revealed that Cronje had approached England captain Nasser Hussain on the final morning of the match with an offer to "make a game of it", but that Hussain had originally declined the offer. 

But half an hour into the day's play, Hussain changed his mind and left the field to find Cronje to discuss terms.

What followed was a day of cricket that should have been remembered as a classic, but now - 16 years later - it is one that is remembered for all the wrong reasons. 

South Africa v England at Centurion:

November 1995

England 381/9 declared (Hick 141, Atherton 78, Russell 50*, McMillan 3/50)

Match drawn

January 2000

SA 248/8 declared (Klusener 61*)

England 0/0 declared

SA forfeited innings

England 251/8 (Stewart 73, Vaughan 69, Pollock 3/53)

England won by 2 wickets

January 2005

SA 247 (De Villiers 92, Flintoff 4/44, S. Jones 4/47)

England 359 (Thorpe 86, Flintoff 77, G. Jones 50, Nel 6/81)

SA 296/6 declared (Kallis 136*, De Villiers 109)

England 73/4 (Ntini 3/12)

Match drawn

December 2009

SA 418 (Kallis 120, Duminy 56, Swann 5/110)

England 356 (Swann 85, Collingwood 50, Harris 5/123)

SA 301/7 declared (Amla 100, De Villiers 64, Boucher 63, Anderson 4/73)

England 228/9 (Pietersen 81, Trott 69, De Wet 4/55)

Match drawn

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Rebels 27
Brumbies 7
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England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
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England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
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