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banner Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 05:49 GMT
Banned Cronje handed lifeline
Hansie Cronje
Sonn says Cronje is a "son of South Africa cricket"
Percy Sonn, president of the South African Cricket Board, has opened the door for the return of the disgraced Hansie Cronje.

Sonn went on radio to defend his decision to order the inclusion of coloured all-rounder Justin Ontong in the side to face Australia in the third Test in Sydney.

But when he was asked about Cronje, who was banned for accepting hand-outs from a bookmaker, he replied: "Hansie is one of us.

Percy Sonn
Percy Sonn says Cronje "is one of us"
"He is a son of South Africa cricket. He is entitled to the freedom and liberties of all South Africans and there is a place for him in our cricket."

The controversy over Ontong began when he was included in the team to face Australia at the expense of Jacques Rudolph, a white player who had originally been named as Lance Klusener's replacement.

Sonn vetoed the line-up, leaving Rudolph out and bringing in Ontong, who had played just a single match on the tour.

In that match against New South Wales, Ontong struggled with two ducks and gave up 35 runs in just two overs.

"Justin Ontong was originally selected in the tour squad as cover for the number six spot and it was only right that he be given the opportunity when it arose," said Sonn.

"Our policy says that if there is an opportunity for a person of colour to represent his country we must make sure he gets that opportunity. I felt that was not being complied with."

President of the United Cricket Board Percy Sonn
"I'm sure there is a future for Hansie in South African cricket"
South African journalist Neil Manthorpe
"This is a massive u-turn by the United Cricket Board"
See also:

02 Jan 02 |  Australia v South Africa
Pollock disputes Ontong selection
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