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Cricket: Crash Victim - Cricket mourns death of Cronje.

THE cricket world was last night coming to terms with the death of disgraced former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje in a plane crash.

The 32-year-old, who was banned from the game for life after his role in a match fixing scandal, dubbed Cronjegate, died on Saturday when the plane he was travelling in crashed into mountains near the town of George in South Africa's Western Cape province.

The South African Sports Ministry confirmed Cronje was on a cargo plane, which is thought to have crashed when it was unable to land because of poor weather conditions.

Tributes have poured in for Cronje, who played one season for Leicestershire in 1995.

He was also linked with a coaching post with Glamorgan in 1999, but turned the job offer down to remain in the South African set-up.

But those close to the game said he would always be remembered for his role in the match-fixing scandal which rocked the cricket world in 2000.

``Hansie Cronje will go down as the man who disgraced cricket,'' said former England coach David Lloyd.

Former England all-rounder Ian Botham said, ``It will be a tough time for his family.

``It is a very sad time. Unfortunately he will be forgotten for the good things he did and will be remembered for the wrong reasons.''

Australia captain Steve Waugh called on the cricketing world to forget Hansie Cronje's involvement with Indian bookmakers and celebrate his cricketing achievements.

In a statement issued through his manager, Waugh said he would remember Cronje as a player rather than a man who brought the game into disrepute. Waugh said, ``I always admired Hansie as an opponent and enjoyed his friendship.

``Unfortunately he didn't finish his career as everyone would have hoped but now it is time to forgive any shortcomings and remember the good times.

``I send my sincere condolences to his family and friends.''

During his season at Leicester-shire he scored more than 1,300 runs including a double-century. His former Leicestershire county coach Jack Birkenshaw said, ``It is just devastating. After all that has happened, then there is this.

``For me he is one of the best cricketers I have ever been associated with.''

Former South Africa cricket manager Bob Woolmer said, ``(This news) was absolutely shocking. The last two years Hansie's life changed. I saw tremendous changes only earlier this year, in March he got a new job. ``He was looking much better, he was really getting back together again as a person and re-ally looking forward to the rest of his life. What has happened here is - for all of us who worked with him and who knew him as a friend - a tragedy.''

Shortly before the match-fixing allegations came to light, Cronje led his country in the 1999-2000 season to a 2-1 Test win over England. Subsequently his side had oneday tournament success against England and Zimbabwe before inflicting a rare home Test series defeat in India.

The overwhelming success was all forgotten when the match fixing allegations emerged.

The hero of South Africa denied all charges but was sacked on April 11, 2000 by the United Cricket Board of South Africa having admitted to being ``dishonest'' with the board over his activities in India.

The King Commission inquiry, led by Justice Edwin King, heard a catalogue of dishonesty surrounding Cronje's role as captain which brought the credibility of the international game into doubt.

Eventually he fully admitted his guilt. Judge King condemned Cronje's behaviour and in October 2000 he was banned for life by his country's cricket board.

He refused to quit South Africa and vowed to make up for his ``mistake'' and in October last year he successfully appealed against aspects of his life ban.

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HANSIE CRONJE: `Will be forgotten for the good things he did and will be remembered for the wrong reasons'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 3, 2002
Words:644
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