On This Day: Hansie Cronje’s corruption taints cricket as match-fixing scandal erupts

Hansie Cronje, who was one of the best captains from South Africa, was at the centre of a major match-fixing scandal that rocked the game of cricket at the start of the 21st century.

Hansie Cronje was a national icon for South Africa until the match-fixing scandal erupted. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Apr 11, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

It all began with a phone call at 3 AM. Hansie Cronje, South Africa’s captain and national icon, was facing some serious allegations. Earlier, he had defended himself against those accusations vehemently. South Africa, in one tone, heaped scorn on the investigation that was conducted. However, the 3 AM call would change destiny forever. Cronje would go from national icon to disgrace. Cricket would be tarnished forever. The start of cricket’s painful chapter began with that call.

In that call, Cronje confessed to the chairman of the United Cricket Board, the precursor to Cricket South Africa that he was not ‘entirely honest’ in his denials. The accusations had centered around an investigation by New Delhi Police on April 7, 2000. They claimed that they possessed phone recordings of Cronje and an Indian bookmaker discussing ways to fix the match during South Africa’s tour of India in 1999/2000. The full details of the scandal emerged. Bacher stripped Cronje of the captaincy. After this, the full detail of the scandal emerged.

Cronje’s Corruption taints Cricket

During the fifth ODI against India in Nagpur, Cronje attempted to coerce Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams with bribes to underperform in an ODI against India. That the plan did not work was beside the point. This was just the tip of the iceberg. In later revelations made to the Government-appointed King Commission, Cronje revealed that he had accepted around 130,000 US dollars over a number of years from bookmakers to prearrange a number of conditions.

It all began with the 2000 Centurion Test against England. The Test was ruined by rain. Only two days play was possible. However, in a spectacular development, Cronje and the-then England skipper Nasser Hussain declared both the innings. England were set a target to chase. Although this fell in the grey area of the rules, no suspicion was raised. England won the match for a consolation win.

It later emerged that Cronje had won GBP 5000 and a leather jacket for his wife. The bet was England were going to win. 


Cronje, having been stripped of his captaincy, tearfully revealed the extent of the scandal. Gibbs and Williams were banned for six months. Cronje was banned from life. In India, the likes of Mohammad Azharuddin was also banned for life. Ajay Jadeja was handed a five-year ban. Manoj Prabhakar accused 1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev of match-fixing, which the former Indian captain tearfully denied.

Cronje challenged the ruling but the courts upheld the ban. In 2002, Cronje died in a plane crash as he was making strides in the world of business. 10 years since the match-fixing scandal, a deadlier controversy erupted. In 2010, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were accused of spot-fixing in the Lord’s Test against England. Cricket’s reputation took a further dent.

21 years on, the cricketing world seems to have moved on. But, the shadow of fixing lurks. Cronjegate, though, will remain one of the most painful chapters in the history of the game

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