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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Williams pays heavy price
Williams still hopes to make an international comeback
Good times: Williams takes a wicket against England
A moment of weakness cost Henry Williams dear as he was drawn into Hansie Cronje's money-making schemes. He talks to BBC Sport Online's Marcus Prior.

While Hansie Cronje waits to hear whether he has been successful in having his life ban from cricket overturned, one of the men he inveigled into his plans is still reflecting on the personal cost of his own moment of weakness.

Seamer Henry Williams was banned for six months last year.

It followed his admission to the King Commission last year that he accepted an offer of money from Cronje on the condition he conceded more than 50 runs from his ten overs in a one-day international in India.

As it turned out, Williams injured his shoulder early in his first spell, withdrew from the attack and never collected his $10,000 payment.

And Williams is still counting the cost, not least because of the impact on his benefit year with his province, Boland.

Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams
Bad times: Gibbs and Williams served bans

"The whole saga had a huge effect on my benefit year. I don't want to put figures on it but I didn't get what I expected at all. Not even a quarter of what I expected," he said.

Williams, now 34, was a relative latecomer to the professional ranks, beginning his first class career in his mid-20s at one of the least glamorous provinces in South Africa.

Boland cannot afford to pay the high salaries of neighbours Western Province and a benefit is an important financial boost to their senior players towards the end of their careers.

"It was like a pension for me, a bonus for me to put in the bank for my life after cricket. It was all the more important for me and my family (Williams has two young children) considering that I came to the game late."

The benefit aside, Williams is also convinced that his ability to earn a living as a member of the national squad has been compromised.

We made peace because life must go on
Williams on Cronje

"I believe it is one of the reasons I haven't played for South Africa since. It was quite a thing from my point of view - I had just got into the side and was doing well and that happened. I believe it did count against me.

"Some people thought I was in my 30s and was on my way out. But it's like red wine with me - the older, the better. As I get more experience I believe in myself more and my fitness is great.

"Some people think I am 26 and I have to tell them 'No, I'm 34'. They don't want to believe me.

"In one-day cricket you have to bowl 10 overs and I've been doing a very good job for my province up front and at the death - I know how to cope with the pressure. I really believe I can get back into the national squad."

They were prophetic words - with Williams later named in South Afrca's squad for the Hong Kong Sixes tournament.

While Williams has played his way back to form, he believes Cronje is taking a serious risk by challenging his ban in court.

Former South African captain Hansie Cronje
Cronje: Awaiting Justice Frank Kirk-Cohen's verdict

Rather, he suggests, Cronje should get stuck in at the grass roots.

"What he did is a serious offence. I think with all of his experience can still be very useful to South African cricket, but he must never play the game again.

"He should instead offer his services perhaps to coaching youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Despite the effect on his life on and off the cricket field, Williams says he has forgiven his former captain, although only over the phone a year after the scandal first broke.

"There is still anger but not in my heart. I will never forget what he did to us.

"I don't know how to hate someone but I told him, I said 'Listen Hansie, I'll forgive you but I will never forget'."

It may be some time before the cricket world can say the same to the former South African captain.

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