Johannesburg: Herschelle Gibbs has claimed in his controversial autobiography, ‘To the Point’ that former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje had made an offer to the team to fix a match in India in 1996.
However, an one-time ace opener admitted that Cronje remained a man he would always admire.
In a chapter titled ‘The controversies’, Gibbs recalled the night Cronje changed the face of the game forever.
“It was 6.30 a.m. and knocking on my door was the Proteas team captain Hansie Cronje. We were touring India in 2000, and in Nagpur about to play our final ODI match against India. My roommate Henry Williams was in the shower when Hansie sat down on the bed. He got straight to the point. ‘I’ve got a mate here in India,’ he said, ‘and you can make some good money if you do what he’s asking. He’s offering US$15,000 if you go out for less than 20 in today’s game.’
But it was not the first time that Cronje had approached his side about match-fixing, according to Gibbs.
“This had happened before,” Gibbs wrote in his book which was released here on Monday.
“During a tour to India in 1996, we were due to play a benefit game for one of the (unnamed) Indian players. It would be the last game of the tour. The night before the game, Hansie got the whole team together and dropped a real bombshell. ‘I know a guy’, he said, ‘who is going to give us US$250,000 if we lose this game.’”
Gibbs said the offer was tempting because the South Africans were probably going to lose the game anyway due to the team being below strength with six members of the side being sick.
“Of course the team decided against taking the bribe, but even so, it hadn’t been an immediate and strong reaction to an activity totally abhorrent to the notion of sport. Instead we talked the offer over. We declined the offer. Sachin Tendulkar ended up getting a 100 in that game and, predictably, we lost.”
Gibbs said when Cronje made the offer in Nagpur, the consequences of the offer did not even enter his mind as he thought about how it might help him pay off his mother’s house.
“And just like that I made a decision that would get me into a world of trouble and that I would bitterly regret. Despite initially agreeing, Gibbs reneged on the deal but was subsequently fined and banned for six months.”
“The match-fixing scandal (that started in Nagpur in India) may have cuffed us together, but Hansie was a man I will always admire,” Gibbs wrote, adding that he had forgiven him long ago.
“Hansie was certainly the best captain for whom I’ve ever played. Despite the cloud that hangs over his legacy...we were all in awe of the guy -- Hansie was one of those men who had a special presence towards which others gravitate.”
To this day, Gibbs remains uncertain of the inclusiveness of the King Commission of Enquiry which ended inconclusively after it was set up by the South African government in the wake of the match-fixing scandal: “I’m not sure whether the King Commission managed to uncover everything.”
Although Gibbs is confident of there being no match-fixing talk in any South Africa side he has played in since the Cronje scandal, he is not certain about other teams, especially after the recent debacle with the Pakistani team on their London tour: “I’ve watched a couple of games on the subcontinent and I’ve had my suspicions.”
“But I obviously can’t be sure. One thing I do know for sure, and that is, it is impossible to fix a game without 90 per cent of the team in on the deal.”