Hansie Cronje: The controversial chronicle of a fallen hero

The story of Hansie Cronje is a non-celluloid tale of a tainted hero whose stature still nestles on the shaky hands of a paradox. One of the greatest captains of the modern era and the one who shaped South African Cricket a little after readmission, Wessel Johannes Hansie Cronje was born on September 25, 1969. This fallen hero would have turned 49 today had it not been for a fateful Saturday afternoon of June 2002.

 

The Epilogue

 

The life of the man in question enounces how not all stories have a happy ending. The word ‘happy’ itself seems too far from Hansie’s reality whose ending wasn’t even an undisputed one. On that fateful Saturday afternoon, what would become his last, Hansie Cronje was flying back to Georgia, from Johannesburg, to be with his wife Bertha. He couldn’t board the regular flight to Johannesburg and decided to go by a cargo plane which was boarded by him and two pilots. The plane had crashed into the Outeniqua mountains and the three of them lost their lives instantly.

 

The Timeline

 

The disrepute of trading self-dignity in return for money and a ‘leather jacket’.  According to his confession in front of the King Commission, appointed by the Cricket Board of South Africa, it was his ‘unfortunate love for money’ which made him go awry. 

On April 7, 2000:  sometime after the completion of South Africa’s successful tour of India, Delhi Police claimed to have a transcript of a telephonic conversation between Cronje and a member of the Indian betting syndicate, Sanjay Chawla. 

On April 9, 2000: Cronje denied all allegations, saying, “I have never received any sum of money for any match that I have been involved in and have never approached any of the players and asked them if they wanted to fix a game”, but soon on 11th April Cronje called Ali Bacher at 3am to say that he had not been ‘entirely honest’ and admitted to accepting between $10,000 and $15,000 from a London-based bookmaker, for ‘forecasting’ results, not match-fixing.

On April 16, it was revealed that South Africa came close to accepting a $250,000 bribe to throw an international match against India in 1996. Cronje had said the team ‘laughed it off’ as one of his regular ‘practical jokes.’

On June 8, Herschelle Gibbs said that he had agreed to Cronje’s offer of $15,000 to score fewer than 20 runs in the in the 5th ODI, at Nagpur, but went to make 74 runs.

On June 15, Henry Williams admitted to having received money for giving away pre-match information to bookmakers but denied to have ‘thrown’ or ‘fixed’ a match.

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Cronje broke into tears while admitting his allegiance with the bookies, in front of the King Commission.

 

On June 26, Cronje broke into tears before the King Commission as he begged for forgiveness saying, “There is no excuse and I have let the team, the fans, and the game down.”

With the sudden turn of events, it also came out that the only voluntarily forfeited innings in Test history, between South Africa and England, was also a victim of Cronje’s fixing saga. South Africa had eventually lost the Test but was honored for his heroic approach, but it’s only sad to learn how the entire cricket fraternity was deceived and so was the then English captain, Nasser Hussain who still recalls the incident as disgraceful.

October 2000: he was permanently banned from Cricket which he tried to fight by law but all his attempts failed.

After one year had passed since the ban, he was trying to find redemption and by that time law had allowed him to coach in private, attend cricket matches as a spectator, and also work with the media. But the universe had other plans for Cronje as he died in that portentous plane crash almost 4 months prior to his 33rd birthday. In his 68 Tests, he scored 3,714 runs at 36.41 and claimed 43 wickets at 29.95.  He recorded 5,565 runs at an average of 38.64, took 114 wickets at 34.78 with an impressive economy rate of 4.44, and bagged 72 catches in his ODI career spanning 188 matches. With his ban and his demise and after all these years he remains a hero, a hero of the cult. 

World’s Top 10 Opening Duos in Cricket

Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar

Cricket is a game in which the anticipation starts as soon as the opening duo gets on that field. A solid initial partnership can go a long way for the later part of the game. It builds the basis for the rest of the batting line-up to build upon. Here are some of the best opening duos in the history of cricket:

(1) Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar: The two Indian legends top the list as one of the greatest, if not the best, opening pairs the cricket world has ever seen. Years after their retirement, they are still praised and bowed down to for the mark they made individually and together on cricket players and fans alike. The duo played for Team India for almost eleven years, for around 136 innings and a combined total of 6609 runs. The unbeatable pair has scored 21 hundred-plus scores and 23 fifty-plus scores, clearly, they almost always took the team to a flying start. The highest score their partnership fetched was 258 runs

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(2) Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden: This Australian pair was no less as the two world-class players brought Australia onto the map for cricket. Gilchrist’s power hitting and Hayden’s pace complimented each other very well as they played for Team Australia for seven years, including 114 innings and a combined total of 5372 runs. Their highest partnership score is 172 runs. Together they scored 16 hundred plus scores and 29 fifty plus scores.

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(3) Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes: This West Indies duo made the headlines during the prime time of cricket in the country. West Indies was known as the ‘Team of the Gods’ and this pair were the major reason why. With their explosive contribution, they played for almost 12 years for the team for a total of 5150 runs from 102 innings. Their highest partnership score was an unbeaten 192 runs. They have 16 hundred plus scores and 24 fifty plus scores under their name. They were ahead of their time and they may have created a better name for themselves if they were playing at this time and age.

 

(4) Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar: The “Cricket God” makes the lost again but this time with a different Indian player – Virender Sehwag. They quickly became a crowd favorite with Sehwag’s power hitting and Tendulkar’s stroke play. Their deadly combination was the talk of the town for a long time as they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Playing for the team together for almost 12 years, they scored 3919 runs from a total of 93 innings. The highest score the duo has made is 182 runs and they have scored 12 hundred plus scores and 18 fifty plus scores together.

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(5) Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh: Gilchrist also makes the list once more with Mark Vaugh. Mark Vaugh opened with Gilchrist before Mathew Hayden made an entry into international cricket. This Australian duo made a fine partnership, playing for about four years for the team. The period was short but their alarming total of 3853 runs from 93 innings says otherwise. Their highest partnership yielded 206 runs. They have together scored 8 hundred plus scores and 20 fifty plus scores.

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(6) David Boon and Geoff Marsh: Another great pair for the Australian cricket team – David Boon and Geoff Marsh. Geoff Marsh switched to opening after a few years of playing in the mid-lineup and found a great partner in David Boon. The duo served their team for six years for around 88 innings and 3523 runs. The highest score their partnership has yielded is 212 runs. Together they have scored 7 hundred plus scores and 25 fifty plus scores.

 

(7) Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya: This duo created a storm in Sri Lanka that hasn’t been beaten till date. The understanding and coordination between the two were almost impossible to recreate. Atapattu played on the defensive side while Jayasuriya went ahead with the big shots. This pair served their team for almost a decade, playing for 79 innings and scoring 3382 runs in the process. Their highest partnership score is 237 runs. They have score 8 hundred plus scores and 19 fifty plus scores. 

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(8) Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga: Finally a pair that is still currently in game. Another deadly duo from Sri Lanka, these two have made significant contributions recently in the country’s current world ranking in cricket. Dilshan is the power hitter while Tharanga plays it more safe, balancing it out between the two. They have served the team for four years and running, having played 67 innings so far in which they have together scored 3052 runs. Their highest score in a partnership has been 282 runs. They have scored 9 hundred plus and 13 fifty plus scores so far. 

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(9) Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith: This opening duo from Proteus has left-hander Graeme Smith and right-handed Gibbs giving the pair the best of both worlds. Both are not just spectacular together but also amazing individually, They have many a time provided South Africa with a solid start. They have played for the team for around seven years, consisting of 74 innings and 3007 runs. The pair’s highest score is 174 runs. They have 8 hundred plus and 13 fifty plus scores in their pocket. 

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(10) Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar: Concluding with this opening pair from Pakistan, they have been the main strength for the team and have often won the game for them. They have served Pakistan for ten years with 73 innings and a total of 2856 runs. The highest score fetched by their partnership is 173 runs. They have scored 3 hundred plus and 20 fifty plus scores. 

Image result for aamir sohail and saeed anwar