Hansie Cronje

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Template:Infobox Cricketer Wessel Johannes "Hansie" Cronje (September 25, 1969 - June 1, 2002) was a South African cricketer (all-rounder) and captain of the South African national cricket team in the 1990s.

Born in Bloemfontein, he matriculated in 1987 from the prestigious Grey College school in Bloemfontein. An excellent all round sportsman, he represented the then Orange Free State in cricket and rugby at schools level. He made his first class debut playing for Orange Free State against Transvaal at Johannesburg in 1987/1988 at the age of 18. He made his Test debut against West Indies at Bridgetown in 1991 and one-day international debut against Australia at Sydney in the 1992 cricket World Cup soon after the ban on South Africa was lifted. (South Africa was banned from international cricket in 1970 for the apartheid policies followed by the government.)

He scored 3,714 test runs in 68 test matches at an average of 36.41 with 6 Test centuries. He also took 43 Test wickets. He scored over 5,000 ODI runs in nearly 200 ODIs at an average of 38.64 with just 2 centuries. He also took over 100 ODI wickets. He has over 10,000 first class runs at an average of 43.69.

A highly talented young batsman, occasional bowler and excellent tactician, Cronje began his career at Free State, captaining them at age 21, and first playing for his country at 22. Appointed captain of South Africa in 1993, he led the side to test series victories against New Zealand and England. A devout Christian, who impressed as much with his demeanour off the field as his ability on, it came as a great shock to the cricketing world when, in April 2000, he confessed to being involved with the largest match fixing scandal yet uncovered, receiving gifts and money from bookmakers to influence the results of games. Convicted by the King Commission, he was banned from playing or coaching cricket.

On the 1 June 2002, having missed his scheduled flight, he hitched a ride in the jumpseat of a Hawker Siddeley 748 turboprop aircraft on a freight flight from Bloemfontein to George. The experienced pilots decided to initiate a missed approach near George airport. They lost situational awareness in cloud, partly due to unserviceable navigational equipment, and impacted high terrain North East of the airport killing all three on board.

Cronje's native South Africa had at least partly forgiven him for his crimes, but the rest of the cricketing world most surely had not, particularly in South Asia where Cronje's corruption was a useful counterexample to the whispered belief in "white" cricket-playing nations that the corruption infecting the game was mainly an subcontinental issue. Before his death, it was occasionally whispered that Cronje and the South African cricketing hierarchy wished to see him return to the game in some form. Threats of boycotts of the South African team quickly ensued.

See also


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