Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fallen hero and his redemption

Read this really well thought out article on Hansie Cronje, on Times Online. You can check it here.

Though very Brit and therefore very focussed on doing its bit to confirm the Lying, Cheating Captain bit, it's a fair article. Sometimes, you just wonder, whether it was some sort of memory charm at work that caused us to see Michael Atherton, the dust in his pocket, and his little seduction of the ball when all of the white world missed it.

Anyway...had a chance to spend a lot of time recently with Trevor Chesterfield, the New Zealand-born, citizen-of-the-world, South African cricket writer now settled in Sri Lanka. Oh, and major champion of Hansie Cronje's awesomeness. I'll probably not be able to recount most of what we discussed, but I do remember getting into a serious-ish argument with him on the subject.

As far as I am concerned, Cronje was a cheat. His Christianity and blah-blah-blah was incidental. He cheated as much as many others. He suffered a fate he deserved. And it doesn't change things that a lot of others who should have been dealt a similar fate walked away scot-free from the cricket match-fixing scandal. That doesn't serve to absolve him in any way.

But, and I feel this, there's no reason to deny Cronje his place among the greats. The same way I can't accept people just seeing Azhar on the screen and going 'cheat'! Or whatever. Heck, I was in Calcutta, at the Eden Gardens, when he scored each of those many hundreds there. I saw him bat. I saw Azhar bat the way I haven't seen anyone before or after him bat.

I also saw Kapil Dev bowl at the Eden Gardens. I saw him bowl brilliantly at the Eden Gardens. I saw him get Arthurton leg before and then Richardson caught and bowled (brilliantly) in the Hero Cup final, long after Kapil had crossed his use-by date. By far.

Returning to Cronje for a sec, it continues to astound me as to how the world seems to have completely forgotten his step-on-the-ball-and-driving-the-spikes-into-it antic. I forget which match he did it in (a google is all that's needed to find out), but the pictures are clear in my mind.

As much as Atherton's sleight of hand is.