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April 13, 2000


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Cronje does a Clinton

Avinash Subramanium

First, I couldn't believe it. Like most people I never imagined a man of Cronje's stature would do anything like that. I mean, you have to be a very good actor to be able to pull of what Cronje did. He looked 100 per cent all the time. He never seemed like yielding an inch. He competed like his life depended on it. How could he have fixed all that? Boy, does one feel cheated. Just when you start to admire a man for things besides his looks, he goes and does this to you. The whole thing has left me quite stunned. And none of that shrill I told you so rhetoric for me. The simple truth is, the world of cricket has lost what many considered a great man. He was a role model to many. The extent of the hurt felt by his dearest supporters cannot be imagined. There are perhaps only two or three men I admire more in world cricket. And Cronje was right up there with Sachin, Saurav and Steve. But this…this is bad. What's worse, the way it's being dealt with by the parties concerned isn't doing any credit to anyone.

It's not fine to say one has been dishonest but has not fixed matches. If one has been dishonest, one has betrayed the country. One has betrayed the people who made him what he is. One has betrayed the people who have given him all that love. The dividing line between being dishonest and fixing matches does not exist. Cronje has to be made an example out of. Perhaps it's time world cricket was shaken up a bit. Most of the time people from this part of the world are accused of these kinds of things. The whole world calls for our heads. (Akram will vouch for that.) The investigation must not be allowed to go away. The dust must not be allowed to settle. And people like Manoj Prabhakar must be made to shut up. Every time one see's him, he comes out looking even pettier than the last time one saw him. The sooner his story is made to go away the better.

Azhar may be selfish. Azhar may be careless. Azhar may be irresponsible. But Azhar is not anti-national. I may not want Azhar in the team but I will be the first to stand up and be counted among the people who know he wouldn't do a Cronje. Bad idea, considering the big names the Delhi police has promised to reveal. Bless them. And best of luck to them. So, Prabhakar must be given a chance. Maybe he will end up looking the fool he seems. Likewise, Azhar must be given a chance to take Prabhakar to the cleaners.

Meanwhile, word is out that there's a bullet with Mr. Lele's name written on it out on the streets. The angst centres around the portly gent's penchant for shooting his mouth off and ending up with his foot in it. The sooner he learns his role, the better. If the players can behave, he better. The players' reactions on the other hand have been remarkably indifferent. It's almost as if the whole thing is all a part of life for them. The impression I got from it all was there's a lot more to be revealed. Though, I do have the sneaking suspicion that this is all going to go away. Not much is going to come out of the investigation. The Big Boys will make a couple of deals in the back rooms. The cops will find themselves a lot more important things to do. And Cronje might get away with a suspension. Sometimes you just have that feeling about these things. You know? Is that being too pessimistic? Maybe it's that time of the day. When Dark Vader comes through the window.

Speaking now of things besides Cronje's conviction to look forward to, I can't wait to see the Simpson/Ganguly combo at work in England. I have a good feeling about this one. Simpson was one of the few guys who gave it straight to Ganguly. He didn't pamper Saurav. He never stopped pointing out his weaknesses. He encouraged Ganguly to play more on the on-side. And other such things not so complimentary things he had to say about our sometimes spoiled Maharaja. It will be interesting to watch the dimensions Simpsons' thinking will bring to Ganguly's captaincy. Betting or otherwise, things might not be that bad for the teams in this part of the world. Maybe now people will stop trying to ruin Shoaib's career. Maybe Waqar and Wasim will be friends again. Maybe India will have a better manager. Maybe that's asking for too much.

But then, if Clinton could get away with a blue dress why can't Cronje to get away with dishonesty? So what if dishonesty means gambling on the crucial opening overs. Or getting out in the first fifteen overs. Or not bowling a key bowler. Or…he practically gave away the match. Unfortunately, we guys played so badly, we couldn't even manage to take a match that was being given to us on a platter. Well, such is life. Makes one wonder what the bookies thing about our team and why Prabhakar wastes his time taking pot-shots at Azza when there are much surer targets like Cronje to go after. But then, Azza happened to be the unfortunate captain when Prabhakar had pretty much lost it. Maybe someone should tell Prabhakar we didn't really miss him for very long. Cronje though, we will miss. Which is why the South African board will be so kind as to give him back to us suitably chastised after an appropriate suspension. If Clinton could do it so can Cronje. Here's to his Monica. Cheers. Avi.

Avinash Subramanium

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