Hansie Cronje is among those very few names in the world of cricket that draw respect and love and "hatred" simultaneously at the same time.
Regarded as one of the greatest captains the world has ever witnessed, Hansie Cronje rose from the Ashes to take South African cricket to new heights before falling down hard on his back.
The match-fixing scandal that rocked the world of cricket in 1999-00 also saw Hansie Cronje turning zero from hero for many and his untimely death on June 1, 2002, left many in disbelief.
The former South African captain died in a plane crash on this day only at the age of 32
He was in the AirQuarius cargo flight that crashed on Cradock Peak in the Outeniqua mountain range.
It has been 19 years since the unfortunate incident that cut short Hansie’s life in the wee hours of a Saturday morning.
In 2000, 2 years before his unfortunate death, Cronje had confessed to match-fixing in front of the King’s Commission, which led to his lifelong ban from cricket.
According to media reports, Cronje had missed a flight (on Friday evening of May 31, 2002), as he was late from a business meeting in Swaziland.
It was supposed to be the transport back to his home on Fancourt estate, a luxury golf resort at George in the Western Cape.
His former secretary at Bell, Pam Jooste, had mentioned that since Cronje had to take an urgent detour to the offices of Bell Equipment, where he worked as an account manager since his cricket ban; it caused the delay.
This was a company that dealt with earth-moving machinery.
Cronje seemed restless and worried at having missed the flight and looked for alternative arrangements. Pam’s statement recorded that Cronje had asked if anyone needed coffee on that freezing cold day.
"Soon, the ex-skipper had found out a way to return home in a small charter airline AirQuarius. But it allowed only solo passengers in its cargo plane," wrote Yahoo.
Hansie had a prior long-standing arrangement with AirQuarius and he didn’t have to pay for the (1500-mile) trip to meet his wife Bertha. In exchange for the free trip, the pilots lodged in the wing of his house overnight.
The news reached, however, during the afternoon on June 1, 2002. Many theories of murder directed to his death surfaced soon after his death.
He passed away ironically at a time when he was on the verge of revamping his life.
Hansie Cronje was undoubtedly a great, charismatic leader whose one lapse of judgement cost him his career.
It was under Cronje’s captaincy that the South African team revived its form in international cricket in 1991.
He was only 24 when he led his team against Australia.
He was the fourth-highest ranked captain in Test history. Under his successful leadership, South Africa saw 27 victories in 53 Tests.
In 2000, he had hit six centuries, scored 3,714 runs at an average of 36.41, against India.
He was regarded as one of the finest players of spin bowling in the world.
The South Africa skipper, a devout Christian is fondly remembered by many as a fantastic, enthusiastic teammate, supportive captain.
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