SA team heading for a split over Cronje tribute issue

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2003, 22:19 [IST]
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Durban: The decision of a few South African players to dedicate the World Cup to their former captain Hansie Cronje may be indirectly interpreted as their concern for the current leadership, a leading sports psychologist has said.

Dr Ken Jennings, who was attached to the South African team between April 2000 and May 2001, believes that the dedication has the potential to divide the side in future and may have negative connotations for Shaun Pollock's side in the coming seasons. Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes, two of the senior most players of the South African squad, had declared last week that they would dedicate the World Cup to their former teammate Hansie Cronje who was banned for life after admitting to having received money from bookmakers.

The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) had quickly distanced itself from the cricketers' decision, saying the dedication was a personal tribute from Donald and Rhodes. "This hankering after Hansie should be considered on two levels," Jennings said on Wednesday. "Firstly it is a reflection of the direct result of the huge influence he had on his team-mates while captaining the side, but indirectly, the pair may also be expressing some concern for the present leadership of the side.

"The issue may have the potential to divide the side on some level in the future, especially in stressful situations," Jennings was quoted as saying by SAPA news agency. Jennings, however, stressed that the dedication did not mean that Rhodes or Donald were condoning Cronje's wrong-doing. "It's quite a complex phenomenon. One can't under-estimate the deep relationships that Hansie forged with some members of the side," he said. "One has to respect those very powerful relationships."

South African coach Eric Simons admitted that he was worried when he first came to know about the dedication but said the situation had been resolved now. "At first I was a little surprised and concerned. We had a long chat about it in Drakensberg and now I am much happier," he said from the team's training camp in Newlands. "Jonty said that Hansie had done so much for him and that it was a very personal gesture. It is not a team dedication - simply a personal one from Jonty and Allan."

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