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Hansie Cronje was a hero in South Africa. After apartheid ended in 1991, the Rainbow Nation resurfaced from the sports wilderness and resumed test cricket in April of the following year. Cronje made his test debut in the team"s first match back, and was named captain two years later, a position he retained until 2000. He was rated the 11th best South African of all time in a nationwide poll in 2004. He had been suspended from cricket four years before for collecting money from unregistered bookies in exchange for supplying information and rigging matches. Cronje was hardly the first cricketer to be seduced into segueing by filthy lucre, and the fans still held him in high esteem following his misdeeds. Nowadays, with online sports betting, especially sports betting in India, around bet sports, the misdemeanours are aplenty. Many sports betting sites have emerged and sports bet is a primary inducer of cases like Cronje.

Hansie Cronje: Hero or Villain?

Cronje was born on September 25, 1969, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to Ewie and San-Marie Cronje. He was the top boy at Grey College in Bloemfontein when he graduated in 1987. He was an outstanding all-round athlete who represented the Orange Free State Province in cricket and rugby at the school level. He was the captain of both the cricket and rugby teams at his high school. Cronje graduated from the University of the Free State with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Frans Cronje, his older brother, and Hester Parsons, his younger sister, were his siblings. Frans" father, Ewie, was a first-class cricket player for the Orange Free State in the 1960s. Cronje earned his first-class debut for Orange Free State when he was 18 years old, in January 1988. He was a regular the following season, playing in Currie Cup matches as well as the Benson and Hedges Series. Cronje was named captain of the Orange Free State for the 1990–91 season despite being only 21 years old. In December 1990, he hit his first century for them against Natal. He led Orange Free State to a Castle Cup/Total Power Series double in 1992–93. In 1995–96, he was the Currie Cup"s batting averages leader at the end of the season. Cronje was an abroad player for Ireland in the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1997, and he helped them win their first ever match against English county opponents.

The Orange Free State Hero

He was called up to play in the 1992 World Cup and made his ODI debut against Australia in Sydney. Cronje was part of the Netherlands" post-World Cup tour to the West Indies, where he played in three One-Day Internationals and made his Test debut in the next Test match at Bridgetown. When he led the team for the third test at Adelaide in 1993–94, he emerged as South Africa"s second youngest Test captain, after Murray Bisset in 1898–99, although it was a dismal start to his captaincy career as the series was squared. South Africa dominated 27 Tests and lost 11 under Cronje"s captaincy, winning series against every country except Australia. He led the ODI team to 99 victories in 138 games, with one draw and three no results. He holds the South African milestone for most matches won as captain, with 138 matches only surpassed by Graeme Smith"s 149 ODI captaincy. In terms of matches won, he is the fourth most successful captain in the world, behind Ricky Ponting, Allan Border, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, while in terms of percentage of victories (73.70), he is third behind Ponting and Clive Lloyd.

The Downslide Begins

Cronje was promised $10,000 to toss a one-day international (ODI) match against Pakistan in January 1995. He rejected, but his interest was sparked a year later. Mohammad Azharuddin, an Indian middle-order batsman who was later jailed for life, introduced Cronje to Mukesh Gupta ahead of South Africa"s third test in India in 1996. "MK," as he was called, was a bookmaker who offered the South African skipper $30,000 if he could persuade his team to lose wickets on the last day and therefore lose the match. Cronje retained the money and didn"t tell anyone about the offer. So what was the big deal? His team had already lost, so what was the big deal? Whether it was harmful or otherwise, he had been seduced by a shady bookmaker. It was never supposed to be an isolated incident. The final game of the India tour was a benefit ODI, which provided an ideal chance for fixers. What could be greater than a non-essential dead rubber? Cronje was paid $250,000 to toss the match, so he held a meeting to see whether his team wanted to rig the outcome. Although the initial offer was turned down, the fact that they were willing to negotiate is telling. Not only in terms of the players" morals, but also in terms of Cronje"s power over them. He was also immune to suspicion from the rest of the world. Cronje"s immaculate record, however, has recently been questioned by journalists. India was in South Africa on a reciprocal trip less than two weeks after the ODI. "MK" was the same way. Cronje earned $50,000 for providing him with knowledge on squad selection for the first test and the declaration score for the second. He was also given $300,000 if he failed the third test, which he declined. Cronje has always maintained that he was solely paid for intelligence, not for fixing. There were nearly $130,000 in known payments, but were there any more? After all, he was known for being money-obsessed and eager to make a fast profit whenever he could. In January 2000, in Centurion, came the dreaded last test with England. South Africa led the series 2-0, and the match had been ruined by rain. On the last day, there was no hope of an outright victory, and it didn"t matter. The home team was 155/6 to win, which was unchanged from the very first day, and England was +1600 to win. Cronje recommended that they make a game of it by giving England a target to chase down. In doing so, he made history as the first (and only) professional captain to forfeit an innings. To win, the visitors needed to score 249 runs, which they dutifully did.

The Trap is Set

South Africa travelled to India after the England series. Cronje took a phone as a present while ontour and quickly began receiving upwards of 50 calls and text messages each day. He had no idea that some of his chats were being taped. Sanjay Chawla, an Indian gambler under police surveillance in Delhi, was one of the callers. They weren"t looking into match fixing; they were looking into accusations against a local businessman. Despite this, they were handed proof of cricket malfeasance on a silver platter. The last match of the tour was a one-day international in a series that South Africa had already lost. Does this ring a bell? Another piece of dead rubber ripe for repair. He planned to underperform with Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams. Both received $15,000 for scoring less than 20 runs (although scoring 74), and the latter for bowling poorly (despite only bowling 11 deliveries due to injury). What happened next was unavoidable, given that police had audio recordings of the conversations that set up the scheme. Cronje was charged for rigging South Africa"s ODIs against India by Delhi police on April 7th, 2000. He denied the accusation two days later at a press conference. Cronje had almost 70 bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, it was later discovered. It was a terrible bluff, which may have influenced his decision to admit two days later. Cronje, on the other hand, only admitted to collecting $15,000 in India for "giving out information and prediction but not match-fixing." There had been so much more in actuality. Cronje then read a 22-page testimony during the King Commission inquiry two months later, revealing significantly more about his shady operations. The United Cricket Board of South Africa inevitably suspended him for life in October 2000. Cronje would die just under two years later, tragically. In poor weather, a light freight plane in which he was travelling crashed, killing everyone on board.