Kepler Wessels, the former South Africa captain, has come out about his suspicions that Hansie Cronje was involved in corrupt activities much before the issue came to light in the late 1990s.
Wessels represented Australia in the 1980s, and returned to become his native South Africa’s first Test captain after the apartheid years. Cronje, who captained South Africa in 53 Tests and 138 One-Day Internationals, took over from Wessels in the 1994-95 season.
Cronje’s run came to an end in 2000 after 68 Tests and 188 ODIs when police in New Delhi charged him with corruption. Cronje was banned for life after an investigation and passed away soon after, in 2002, when a cargo plane he was travelling in crashed. He was 33.
While evidence that Cronje was involved in match-fixing since 1996 has been in the public domain, Wessels has suggested that Cronje might have been deeper in the match-fixing hole that previously known.
According to Wessels, the first time he had suspicions was during a triangular series involving Australia in Pakistan in 1994.
“Hansie made a few comments during the last couple of games that led me to believe that things weren’t 100% right,” said Wessels on a Fox Sports programme called ‘Cricket Legends’ in Australia on Thursday (February 23).
“We picked up a wicket and we were in the huddle and Pakistan were 4 for 120 or something. And (Cronje) came into the huddle and said ‘don’t worry about this, we’re going to win this one because they’re not trying to win it’. I’m thinking ‘where’s that coming from’.”
Then, during the first final of the Mandela Trophy in January 1995, Pakistan were cruising at 101 for 2 after South Africa had set them a target of 215. But a remarkable collapse saw eight wickets – including three run outs – go down for just 77 runs.
“Two or three run outs straight to Jonty Rhodes … I looked at that and thought ‘nup, this can’t be right’,” said Wessels. “And I remembered those sort of conversations (with Cronje) and started to think all is not well.”
During the King Commission probe into match fixing in South Africa, Cronje admitted to pocketing roughly US$ 100,000 from bookies since 1996.