CAPE TOWN: When Hansie Cronje died in an air crash 10 years ago, cricket lost an inspirational leader and the sport’s most high-profile self-confessed cheat.
“He was a great leader of people who had the ability to get the best out of his players,” said former team-mate and current South African coach Gary Kirsten when asked for his main memory of the sporting icon who was banned for life for accepting money from illegal gamblers.
Cronje, who captained South Africa to 27 wins against only 11 losses in 53 Tests before his disgrace, was the only passenger on a mail delivery flight which crashed into a mountain near his home town of George in bad weather early on June 1 2012. He was 32.
“He was a fantastic team-mate and captain, always positive, enthusiastic and supportive,” said former South African wicketkeeper David Richardson, the International Cricket Council’s general manager, cricket. Richardson said his reaction when details were revealed of Cronje’s involvement with cricket’s underworld was “huge disappointment, a little anger and some sympathy for what you would not wish on anyone”.
But Richardson said there was a positive side to the revelations made at the King Commission, a judicial inquiry set up in South Africa in 2000 after Indian police intercepted telephone calls between Cronje and Sanjiv Chawla, a London-based gambler, during South Africa’s tour of India that year. “Until then, most believed the problem, if there was one, was limited to the sub-continent. The King Commission dealt with the matter effectively and unambiguously. The players were investigated, were found guilty and punished.”
In addition to Cronje being banned for life, Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams were banned until the end of 2000 for being persuaded by Cronje to accept money in return for under-performing in a one-day international in Nagpur.
Richardson said he believed that measures taken by the ICC to combat corruption were effective.