Neil Manthorp – 01/06/2002
“It puts everything into perspective, doesn’t it? At times like this we can look around and ask, truly, how important was the match-fixing scandal? Of course it damaged the game and it was wrong, but I’ll judge him by what he was to me – a mate and a great cricketer.
“The words ‘match-fixing’ and ‘Hansie Cronje’ will always be associated and that’s understandable but he was about far more than that. He actually persuaded me that I was good enough to play international cricket and that changed my life.
“The thing that gets to me more than just about anything is the pain and hurt that the Cronje family has had to endure over the last two years. Can any family be expected to go through that?”
“Hansie was a friend and a great leader, He was an inspiration to me when I first came into the national team and he gave me confidence. It was impossible not to respect him.
“Even when things turned bad for him with the scandal it didn’t change certain things, like the fact that he was a great cricketer, a great performer and a great on-field leader of his country.
“I have no doubt that he would have made a successful comeback with his personal life and business career outside of cricket because that was the sort of person he was. He was determined and he was an achiever.
Kepler Wessels, the only man whose leadership Cronje played under in the national team, said he was convinced Cronje was heading for brighter times after two years of unhappiness.
“I actually bumped into him last week for the first time in a long time and I gained a very clear impression of a man determined to create a new niche for himself in society.
“He knew that things obviously would not be the same with regards to cricket but he was building a new life outside the game and he came across as positive and determined.
“As a captain I will never forget the things he brought to the team, most memorably his enthusiasm and his work ethic, and when he took over as a captain he continued those things. If he had still been in charge of the national team today it would not be in the mess it currently is.”
Henry Williams: “He was the best ambassador for South Africa as a captain and a person. Despite what happened I still believe he was the best man we had. I spoke to him a couple of times after the match fixing incident and I said to him I forgive you it happened and we can go on with our lives now.
“Thank God we made up and forgave each other. I feel bad and sad about what’s happened but when it’s your time it’s your time.
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