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SA cricket fighting back at a time when the world marks anniversary of Hansiegate

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Twenty years ago, South African cricket was thrown into turmoil when then Proteas captain Hansie Cronjé was implicated in a match-fixing scandal.

CAPE TOWN – The state of repair of South African cricket appears to be on the right track at a time when the world is marking the 20th anniversary of the Hansie Cronjé match-fixing scandal.

Over the last few days, there has been prolific media coverage of the scandal which came to light in April 2000 when the Delhi Police in India informed that they had recordings of match-fixing conversations between SA cricket captain Cronjé and a bookmaker.

It was a crippling blow for national cricket then and many years followed before the game was partially restored to full health, although subsequently it was left to grapple with maladministration and corruption.

The Nicholson Commission of Enquiry followed in 2009 and months later disgraced Gerald Majola, then Cricket South Africa’s chief executive was suspended for his role in a saga known as the ‘bonus scandal’.

SA cricket suffered another body blow about six months ago when evidence surfaced that national game had been captured by a group of administrators and that led to the suspension of Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe in early December 2019.

A day later, Jacques Faul of the Titans was named as the interim chief executive officer (CEO). A few days on, former SA captain Graeme Smith was appointed acting director of cricket for Cricket South Africa (CSA).

At a time when the world was reflecting on the scandal which rocked world cricket to its foundations former CSA president Norman Arendse was interviewed on eTV recently. He was asked about the lessons that cricket learnt from the scandal.

“Cricket learnt from this experience and measures were put in place, like the anti-corruption unit,” said Arendse.

“It was viewed as a critical area of concern and as a result, Cricket South Africa appointed Judge Ngoepe to head its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.

“He dealt with matters such as the use of cell phones in players’ enclosures on matchdays. He educated players at the franchise level, even before they reached the international level, about the pitfalls and evils of match-fixing.

“However, I’m afraid it is a scourge that will never be dealt with completely. As long as there is money, in any game, there will be attempts to corrupt people.

“The betting guys will target the vulnerable, and more so those who were former international players. We’ve seen that happening too.”

In recent months, Arendse has been a popular media target for his insights into the current state of national cricket.

“It appears to be – and I speak from a distance, that Jacques Faul (acting CEO) and Graham Smith (interim Director of Cricket) are running cricket in this country,” said Arendse.

“They don’t seem to be doing a bad job. They seem to be making the right decisions.

“From a cricketing point of view, they clawed back a lot of the damage or repaired a lot of the damage that we have suffered over the past three or four months.

“Our cricket team seems to have picked up a bit under (Team Director) Mark Boucher and so from that point of view things are beginning to look up again.

“I was told that our (Cricket SA) biggest sponsor Standard Bank was withdrawing and I’m not sure whether that’s still the case. If happens it will be a huge blow for our cricket.

“National cricket’s problem remains in the boardroom – Jacques and Graham, of course, are on the operational side they are doing the best that they can.

“It seems that we (Cricket SA) appear to be leaderless from a governance point of view at the moment,” said Arendse.

Just after the national lockdown announcement, Cricket South Africa (CSA) decided to terminate all forms of cricket in the country, for the next 60 days.

Just after this interview, Cricket South Africa appointed former captain Graeme Smith as Director of Cricket on a permanent basis. 

African News Agency (ANA)