Wessel Johannes "Hansie" Cronje was the man who changed the face of South African cricket. He will always be remembered as someone who made the South African cricket team one of the most feared in world cricket! I really appreciated the way he played, marshaling his troops. I would always remember the only innings forfeiture in test cricket, in January 2000 against England, at Centurian. Having already won the series 2-0, and after almost the whole test was washed out, he declared 0-0, to make a game out of it, which England eventually won(Scorecard)! All was going well for him, or so it seemed, until the revelations by the Delhi police regarding that fateful South Africa tour of India.
|Cronje breaks down during the trial|
|What's left of Cronje's aircraft|
Cronje was named the 11th Greatest South African of all time by a TV Series by the same name in 2004, two years after his death, even after the controversies that plagued his otherwise glittering career- such is the love of his countrymen! Herschelle Gibbs was also banned for six months. But the mushroom cloud of the scandal had just began forming...
|Azharuddin during the peak of his career|
And then, he betrayed the nation; the millions, if not billions, of fans. Hansie Cronje implicated him in the scandal saying Azharuddin introduced him to the bookies. He later admitted to having fixed three ODIs. He said in an interview that he was being targeted as he was from a minority community! How ridiculous can you be?
Recently, the Andhra Pradesh high court lifted the life ban, but at the age of 49, it makes absolutely no sense, considering the BCCI had lifted the ban back in 2006, and the ICC had already refused to lift it. That was one more example of how a speck of stupidity can destroy you, even if you were one of the most successful captains of the country! Azharuddin eventually joined politics, and is now an MP- but it hardly matters!
fourth and the fifth wickets. Manoj Prabhakar was also implicated in the scandal.
It's been almost ten years. Times have changed, match fixing has evolved. What is popular now is 'spot fixing'! And it took Pakistan Cricket by storm! Mohammed Amir (who was just 18 then), Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt were implicated and consequently banned! All of them were youngsters with great potential; I wonder how could they do it, just for some money- with their whole life ahead of them! Doesn't IPL-like leagues provide you with that kind of money now?
I would conclude this with a question. As a respected, loved person in your country, is there a one time payment, a figure, for which you will sell yourself?