Cronje telling the world "repentance, my foot!"

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, August 14, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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There is a new commodity in the market, and the quotations on it are running high. This unusual and abstract element that has attained marketability, goes by the nomenclature of "Disgrace".

The man selling his own and cricket's great shame is former South African captain Hansie Cronje. He is seeking the highest bidders from the world of print and electronic media, to serialise his own story of how he cheated his way right through his career as captain of the South African team.

When Cronje's name was first mentioned by the Delhi Police, the world looked aghast. Could this man, one who gave the impression of a captain who hated to lose, ever have such deep-rooted links with bookies and match-fixers, they wondered.

When Cronje himself owned up the many acts of match-fixing and even of taking the bookmakers for a ride, did a whole Pandora's box open.

His instant confession before a priest, revealing his true faith as a Christian, and blaming Satan for the temptation that corrupted his mind, earned him quite a few admirers, for a bold and forthright admission of guilt.

A leopard, it is said, cannot change his spots. Likewise, Wessel Johannes Cronje, cannot, even for all that had happened in terms of disgrace to himself, his family and his country, cannot kill the temptation of continuing to make more money.

All that he did, as acts of repentance and tendering of the sincerest of apologies for having harmed the careers of his own playing colleagues, was mere play-acting.

This man is as crooked and as greedy as he was from the time he was appointed captain of the South African team. He played almost as many hoaxes as he played matches.

Even before the King's Commission questioned him in detail, Hansie Cronje was granted immunity, because he had come out of the dark deeds, as a person who was highly repentant.

Taking advantage of that amnesty, he has now decided to make more money by peddling the memoirs of his misdeeds.

Cronje has signed a contract for an undisclosed amount to tell his whole story, including his deposition before the King Commission, on a South African TV channel.

Besides, a PR agent is, at the moment, helping him to get the best of deals from publishers of newspapers and TV producers worldwide. He has set for himself a target of over five million dollars for telling the story of his wicked, wicked ways.

Some gumption this for a man, who had submitted himself to his maker for forgiveness, with tears welling in his eyes and a choked voice that touchingly reached out to the world "for I have sinned, and punish me, God" were his words of repentance, soon after a confession before a priest.

It is said that "Jack The Ripper," and even our own Raman Raghav, the serial killers, had turned down offers of telling their own stories in first person.

For one, they were already doomed to die, and secondly, in all conscience, they found their own lives too grotesque and gruesome to look back upon.

Hansie Cronje may not even be named a criminal for all that he has done, and made his millions through deceit. To the cricket world, however, he will ever remain a player who has brought the greatest disgrace to the game.

That he should exploit this dubious status, to make more money, is, perhaps, a bigger shame. "Repentance, My foot," could well be the title of his book, if he ever decides to write one.

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