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Monday, 18 October, 1999, 17:45 GMT
Hansie Cronje: Captain on trial
Whole new ball game: Cronje has turned his back on Glamorgan

Surely it is England, beaten both home and away over the past 12 months, and not South Africa who should be the side licking their wounds at the moment.

Why then is it the South Africans who, all of a sudden, come across as the divided and dispirited party?

The swift U-turn by Hansie Cronje, who rejected a hand-written contract to become Glamorgan coach from next season, may have taken the sting out of a potentially damaging confrontation between the captain and the South African board - but no one was left in any doubt as to the friction present within the camp.

The immediate source of the dispute between Cronje and the board was the announcement by Rushdie Majiet, the new convenor of selectors, that he had been appointed as captain for the first two Tests against England only.

His reasons were that he had not been contributing with the bat but Cronje has been in the job too long, first deputising for Kepler Wessels at 24 and attaining the full captaincy only a year later, to believe he should be on trial.

Cronje - as stubborn as ever - squared up with the United Cricket Board of South Africa and it was the board that backed down.

The captain has now been confirmed in place for the whole of the series and will lead the team at least until the end of the one-day series against Australia next April.

But the mutual suspicion remains after a fraught few months in relations between the skipper and his employers.

Stand-off

By initially accepting the post at Glamorgan for two years Cronje virtually ruled himself out of South Africa's tour to Sri Lanka in July and August next year.

Flying the flag: Cronje has played a major role in South Africa's rise
With Ali Bacher, managing director of the UCB, saying that it was not permissible for players to cherry pick their tours and Glamorgan insisting that their coach had to be present for the entire season, something had to give.

Eventually, Cronje made the only possible decision open to him if he wanted to continue his international career and turned his back on Glamorgan but not before forcing the selectors to intervene.

His position at home is now all the stronger.

For some time now, Cronje has been vocal in his criticism of the board over their selection policy.

Though the UCB seemingly spend most of their time trying to convince the world that they are moving towards a truly multi-cultural future, there are contradictions and pitfalls.

Quota operation

The policy, introduced last winter, of a quota system to encourage the development of non-whites has been opposed by Cronje who has resented being forced to include players not up to the mark at Test level merely on colour.

This, though, is just one area in which Cronje and Bacher do not see eye to eye.

Bacher has, in the past, gone out of his way to give the appearance of being at one with his captain on all matters. Patience is clearly wearing thin.

Cronje has also been involved in a heated debate, carried out through the media, with Wessels, one of the selectors and a man of similar Afrikaner stock (indeed at one time he was his hero).

The captain may have taken the pot off the boil temporarily but it still paints a pretty fragmented picture.

All of a sudden, by comparison, all seems rosy in the England camp.

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See also:
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
1995-96: England throw it away
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
South Africa - A unique selection policy
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
South African Test venues
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
England need Swann to strutt
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
South Africa player profiles
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
England player profiles
18 Oct 99 |  Cricket
Cronje turns back on Glamorgan

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