Sunday, December 05, 2004
And to think, I got his autograph at Eden Park. Bloody nut job he turned into. It's no wonder he used to go out there and bat like he was trying to get a hundred in 30 balls all the time. I guess he just stopped giving a shit about the game.
Cronje and the match-fixing scandal
Kirsten reveals all on Cronje
December 3, 2004
Gary Kirsten has made some startling revelations about Hansie Cronje which offer insights into his obsession with money and his involvement with match-fixing.
A report in Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper says that according to his new autobiography Gazza, which was co-written by the South African-based journalist Neil Manthorp, Kirsten got a hint of Cronje's fixation with the folding stuff during a visit to Dubai in 1999, when both players had gone out separately to dine with their wives. Kirsten went to one of the best restaurants in the city, while Cronje chose Burger King.
Talking about his reaction to Cronje's choice, Kirsten writes: "I smiled back and shrugged my shoulders. He continued the conversation by asking why I would want to waste money on an expensive restaurant when you could get perfectly adequate food for a quarter of the price in a cheap restaurant.
"It was a small example, but it was the moment I knew something had gone very wrong and it disturbed me. I couldn't get the idea out of my head he would rather eat a burger than have a very pleasant meal. He was very wealthy but far too driven by it. I think our relationship changed a bit that day."
Kirsten also provided a detailed account of the famous incident in Mumbai in 1996-97, when Cronje asked the whole team deliberately to underperform in a one-day match against India. Kirsten said that Cronje addressed the entire squad, with only Bob Woolmer, the coach, not around.
"We have been offered a lot of money to throw a game, he [Cronje] said. I swear you could have heard a pin drop at that moment," writes Kirsten. "Nobody moved a muscle. In retrospect I think I had gone into instant shock. Even if I had wanted to speak I would have been unable to. Hansie carried on talking slowly but clearly.
"I listened but it was out of respect for the captain and a strange fascination with what he was saying rather than any intention to carry out instructions. I knew within a few seconds I could not be involved ... but I listened. He had been asked to create the perfect fix. He spelt out the details of how the match had to pan out, with a spread of scores we needed to be within every five overs.
Gary Kirsten: 'How do batsmen get out deliberately?'
"I started sweating. It was a bad dream. I kept thinking, 'How do batsmen get out deliberately?' It was ridiculous. After eight overs we needed to be one wicket down - me - and we needed to have under 25 runs on the board. The idea was absurd. I have never got out deliberately in my life. He mentioned a couple of times it would be worth 60 or 70 thousand rand [about $15,000] each.
"The whole talk lasted about ten minutes but it felt a lot longer. Eventually Daryll Cullinan and Andrew Hudson spoke out. They both spoke along similar lines and they represented all our views. Hudders said we were ridiculous to even think about it, let alone talk about it. The same feeling filtered through the room and the meeting was clearly over. There were no waverers or doubters."
Kirsten also says that he increasingly became uncomfortable with the repeated references to match-fixing that Cronje kept making. "There was just a bit too much banter about the subject around the team. The captain of six years' standing was talking about match-fixing a lot and joking to his players about being involved. It wasn't really possible to know whether he was being serious or not.
"In retrospect he appeared to be handing out invitations all the time in the form of silly little comments like, 'If you make nought today someone will get very rich.' The power of wealth and the greed for money were his weaknesses, and he was more heavily addicted than any of us knew. Perhaps as a senior player I should have acted but hindsight is a perfect science and life isn't."
Cronje was banned for life after being found guilty of match-fixing, and died in a plane crash in June 2002.