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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Opinion split on 'flawed hero' Cronje
Cronje holding winners' trophy after test series in India, March 2000
The triumphant captain

As news of the death of former South Africa cricket captain Hansie Cronje continues to sink in, press assessments of him differ markedly in his home country and in India - where his involvement in match-fixing came to light two years ago.


Countless times he declared his willingness to try to make amends. It is tragic that he has been denied this opportunity for ever

Beeld

In South Africa, The Natal Witness is typical in accentuating the positive while acknowledging the negative.

Although Cronje was "quite rightly" banned following the match-fixing scandal, his record as "one of cricket's most inspirational and successful leaders" should not be forgotten, it says.

It sees his death as bringing "the finality of a Greek tragedy to the saga of a flawed hero... who fell from grace because of a fatal love of the money offered to him by dubious bookmakers".

'Two Hansies'

Sadness at Cronje's death is expressed particularly keenly in the Afrikaans-language press, with Beeld focusing on the two sides to his character and sharing the view of a tragic death.

"It is inevitable that people will always speak about 'the two Hansies'. That is also how he will be remembered," it observes.

"Countless times he expressed his regret at the disgrace that he brought upon cricket and declared his willingness to try to make amends. It is tragic that he has been denied this opportunity for ever."

Cronje reading his submission to the King Commission
The confessed match-fixer

An editorial in Die Burger highlighted Cronje's appeal across the racial divide.

"It is understandable that his own people, the Afrikaners, would not condemn him, but even black people stood up for him," it says.

"In Hansie, South Africa has lost a sinner-hero. Perhaps this is what touched so many people - the fact that they recognized so much of themselves in him. Farewell, Hansie."


The man who brought shame to the game when he was caught red-handed by the Delhi Police will no doubt acquire the halo of a martyr in his own country

Hindustan Times commentary

Rewriting history?

Reactions in India - where the allegations against Cronje were first revealed to an initially sceptical world - were less forgiving.

A commentator in the Hindustan Times forecast that the record would be rewritten in South Africa following his death.

"The man who brought shame to the game in April 2000 when he was caught red-handed by the Delhi Police will no doubt acquire the halo of a martyr in his own country, where many inexplicably sought his rehabilitation," Gulu Ezekiel declares.

The issue, he feels, is simple: "How could the idol of millions of South Africans betray them so shamelessly?"

"Sadly," he concludes, "that will remain the legacy of a cricketer whose name will forever live in infamy."

Writing in the same paper, Binoo K John sees Cronje's death as a form of "redemption" for "the captain who betrayed his country".

"When the gods ticked his name to call him back to the pavilion, they would have been signalling that he had done enough penitence," he comments.

Tragedy


Cronje's career will, hopefully, serve as a cautionary tale for those tempted to ignore the virtues of playing with a straight bat

Times of India

Under the headline "Fallen hero", an editorial in the Times of India returns to the theme of tragedy - but focused more on the scandal that finished Cronje's career than on the crash that ended his life.

"Tragic as Cronje's untimely death is, what is even more tragic is the way he will be remembered - an example of what happens when talent succumbs to temptation," it said.

"The legend of Hansie Cronje died long before he did. But his career will, hopefully, serve as a cautionary tale for those tempted to ignore the virtues of playing with a straight bat."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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03 Jun 02 | Cricket
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