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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Cronje's body retrieved
Cronje's body is carried from a rescue helicopter
The body was recovered in the Outeniqua mountains (AP)
The bodies of former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and two pilots have been taken to a mortuary after a helicopter crew picked them up off the mountain side in Western Cape province where they were killed in a plane crash.

Their remains were extricated from the wreckage on Saturday, but the bad weather delayed the helicopter's flight to the scene outside the city of George, about 500 kilometres east of Cape Town.

Investigators have been collecting flight data recorders from the Hawker Siddeley 748 cargo plane which came down early on Saturday during bad weather, killing all three on board.

Cronje after winning the test match series against England in Pretoria in 2000
Cronje had tumbled from the heights of cricket
Tributes have been pouring in for Cronje, with calls to forget the bribes scandal which led to his ban from professional cricket and to concentrate instead on his sporting achievements.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said it was hoped that post-mortems on the bodies could be conducted on Monday.

South African media reported that Cronje had caught a ride on the cargo plane early on Saturday morning after missing a scheduled flight.

Relatives of the 32-year-old said the plane was unable to land due to poor weather conditions in George and crashed at about 0500GMT (0600BST).

It appears the pilot tried to circle before landing but crashed in the rugged Outeniqua mountains.

Disgrace

Cronje was banned for life from the game by the United Cricket Board of South Africa in 2000.

  Hansie Cronje factfile
1987-88: Made his first-class debut for Orange Free State
1991-92: Made Test match debut for South Africa against Windies
1992-93: Hit his maiden Test century against India
1993-94: Had his first taste of Test captaincy, losing to Australia in Adelaide
1994-95: Officially appointed South Africa captain against New Zealand
1995: Joined Leicestershire as overseas player
1999: Captained South Africa to the semi-final of the World Cup in England
2002: Killed in plane crash

The decision was later endorsed by the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council, after he admitted to taking money to fix matches involving South Africa.

Cronje sparked the match-fixing scandal after Indian officials said they had tape recordings of him talking with an Indian bookmaker during his team's tour of the subcontinent.

Several team mates later told a government commission that Cronje conveyed to them an offer in 1996 of up to $350,000 (180,000) to lose a one-day game against India.

Cronje denied that, but admitted receiving $100,000 (68,000) from gamblers in exchange for match information and conveying other offers from gamblers to team mates to perform badly.

'Sheer brilliance'

But stars of the cricketing world have joined in appealing for people to pass over the former South African captain's disgrace and to remember his contribution to the sport.

"He didn't finish his career as everyone would have hoped but now it is timely to forgive him his shortcomings and remember the good times," said Australia Test captain Steve Waugh.
Plane wreckage lies on mountainside
No date for the funeral has been set

Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said he thought the match-fixing controversy could be "buried with his death", and described Cronje as a "very dedicated cricketer and captain".

South African President Thabo Mbeki said people would remember "his moments of sheer brilliance on the cricket pitch".

Cronje's priest, Pastor Ray McCauley, recalled him as a "person with a huge, big heart", always ready to visit orphanages and schools.

The South African Sunday papers were also full of praise for the dead man, with the Sunday Times saying he was "arguably South Africa's greatest cricket captain before his career ended in disgrace".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News' Clarence Mitchell
"Cronje was trying to make up for his mistake"
Ali Bacher managing director of South African UCB
"I'm devastated"

Cronje dies

The aftermath

Cronje profile

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