Cronje's legacy lives on in South African cricket

Hansie was prepared to face the consequences of his actions

Cronje’s hand in match-fixing obviously evokes great disappointment, but his cricketing exploits far outweigh his activities off the field. “Hansie is deeply missed even today,” says former South African opener Boeta Dippenaar, leading Diamond Eagles in the Champions League.

Besides being an alumnus of Grey College from where Cronje completed his matriculation, Dippenaar also made his one-day and Test debuts under the late Protean in 1999.  

Dippenaar’s fondness for Cronje is obvious when he speaks in defence of his senior mate without trying to absolve him of his mistakes. “One must understand that Hansie made make a mistake, but he also admitted to it. Besides, he also did some great things. It always depends upon what perspective you want to look at it. Being a Bloemfontein member like Hansie, I still remember him very fondly,” he says.

Dippenaar feels what Cronje went through wasn’t nice. “What he went through was not good. But we all know that for every action there are consequences, and Hansie knew there were going to be consequences for his actions. He was prepared to stand up and take that.”

Another Eagles player and a Grey College graduate Ryan McLaren’s eyes light up when he recalls his first memories of Cronje. “I was eight when I first saw him play in the 1992 World Cup in Australia. He was a great inspiration for me. I looked up to Hansie as a cricketer, and the way he trained and led his life in terms of cricket. When it came to international cricket, he was a national hero. Everyone respected him and loved him, he was a great person.

“But obviously, when it came to match-fixing, it was disappointing. That’s something in the past and should be laid to rest. He was an awesome person but as I said, what happened at the later stage of his life was disappointing and should be forgotten,” he says wishfully.

The pride is almost palpable when McLaren talks about Cronje’s impact on his school. “He still has a legacy in that school. Whether it is coaching cricket, training or anything… When you go to the school you still see him as part of the school, you will still see his picture and his name up there on the board,” he points out. For Dippenaar, Cronje was someone who had a huge impact on South African cricket, his leadership qualities being discussed often. “One thing that stood out for me was that he was always prepared to take the lead. He had a certain charisma and presence around him. Even to the day, we feel he took a leading role in admitting to match-fixing when many refused accept their fault. He came forward and said ‘Look, what I did was wrong and I am sorry about it.’ But the irony of it is that he is dead now and if he hadn’t admitted to it, he probably would have been still alive,” says Dippenaar, causing many more questions to be raised.

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