Appropriately, then, there will be those who won’t forget unpublicised, but very touching personal gestures. Hansie’s first and most long-standing coach, Johan Volsteedt, for example.
Sobbing as a parent would on losing a child, moments after it got confirmed Hansie was no more, Volsteedt told The Telegraph: “He did a few things wrong, yes, but that didn’t affect our relationship… At this moment, I remember Hansie as that bright boy who kept his promise of inviting me to Lord’s, should he ever get to play for South Africa… I remember him as…”
[In the summer of 1994, Volsteedt and his wife, Dalene, were Hansie’s guests during a highpoint of South African cricket.]
Speaking from Bloemfontein, the Cronjes traditional home turf, Volsteedt paused and added: “Some of us do make mistakes… A few get caught, others get away… Hansie, I believe, paid the price for being a man always in the news… The bigger tragedy, though, is that he couldn’t clear his name… Couldn’t…
“We (at Gray High School) didn’t condone what he did yet, at the same time, continued to respect him as an old boy. It’s a tradition with us and, clearly, we didn’t wish to make an exception… What happened today is just too sad… I can’t say more.”
Volsteedt, incidentally, was among the first callers at the Cronje residence on Paul Kruger Street. With Hansie’s father (Ewie) away on a weekend “hunting expedition,” mother San Marie was left alone to cope with the tragedy.
The tragedy, of course, could have been avoided had Hansie not undertaken the last gamble of his life: Hitching a ride from Johannesburg to George on a twin-engined Hawker-Siddely aircraft owned by friends in the courier business.
Though Hansie and wife Bertha had shifted to George (near Capetown) when the match-fixing scandal broke, the former captain had also set up a small establishment in Jo’Burg after joining Bell Earth Removals as finance manager this year.
Bertha, however, would stay in George, where she is a top-notch physiotherapist. So, it’s largely on weekends that Hansie would be with his wife.
But for appalling weather in Jo’Burg last night, which disrupted out-bound flights, Hansie would have been with Bertha instead of lying lifeless on the Outeniqua Mountain.
With flights temporarily cancelled and there being uncertainty over the weather actually clearing this morning, Hansie is understood to have contacted those who regularly operated on the Jo’Burg-George sector.
Apparently, early today, the pilot attempted to land in George, but mist had drastically reduced visibility. The decision to then head for an alternate airstrip was taken. It proved fatal, as the aircraft went smack into the merciless Outeniqua.
Treated as an outcast and barred by the United Cricket Board from occupying even a Media Box seat at any venue in South Africa, Hansie had one priority: “To lead a normal life.”
Interacting exclusively with this correspondent (via e-mails) during India’s tour last year, Hansie had said: “My wife and I are keen to continue with our lives normally…”
Hansie, obviously, had reasons for not engaging in a formal interview. He himself explained: “Now that I’m no longer involved with cricket, I feel it would be improper for me to do any more interviews … I’m sure you will respect that.”
Still, cricket remained Hansie’s No.1 love. As closest buddy Allan Donald revealed, not too long ago, his one-time captain was “hoping” to “ some day” coach or become a commentator.
It’s a measure of the huge impression Hansie left on teammates that most continued to communicate even while the Establishment shunned him. Donald, Jonty Rhodes, also Herschelle Gibbs, who was briefly banned for being ‘influenced’ by Hansie.
Given the passion with which Hansie played and his outstanding captaincy, it’s no surprise that teammates stood by him in his darkest hour.
More than Hansie’s links with the Mukesh Guptas and Marlon Aronstams, what won’t be forgotten is an emotional Shaun Pollock dedicating South Africa’s first win in the post-Cronje era (ODIs at home, against Australia) to the former captain. In time, the fraternity itself will accord the cricket-status Hansie deserves.
Back in the summer of 2000, nobody believed Hansie could have been involved with bookies. It’s equally hard believing he is no more.
Technically and physically the Germans are miles ahead of the Saudis but any country, however inferior in football history, tries to show they deserve to be there once they reach the World Cup. This was shockingly absent in the Saudis approach and it allowed Germany, struggling to fight back into the elite fold, start a crucial tournament on a rousing note.
Germany might have expected Saudis to produce something similar to what Senegal did against France, but found to their delight that there was little strategy to contend with. Saudis looked resigned to their fate and the many unmanned points in the rival half encouraged Germany to explore these parts as they started hitting the net with joyous regularity.
Such a chance to experiment rarely comes in a World Cup match and the Germans were composed enough to ensure a huge victory which will come in handy if the goal average comes into play. Cameroon and Ireland, too, showed earlier that they are strong contenders for the two qualifying slots from this group.
The battle has thus just begun and a keen tussle between Germany, Ireland and Cameroon is on the cards with Saturday’s landslide victory there to provide tons of confidence to the three-time champions.
Germany advanced the way they pleased, through the middle, down the flanks, and also varied the length and trajectory of the passes as they wanted. The tall centre forwards faced no challenge in the air and the day was ideal for target-practice. It must have been heartening for the Germans to see a young striker getting among the goals and Miroslav Klose will do his and his country’s cause no harm if he scores more in this tournament.
The conquest of Saudi Arabia suggests Germany is a team that is capable of changing the pattern of the attacks during the course of a match. The ventures down the middle with the swift switch-over to the flanks were well combined but they are yet to find out how different it will be against stronger opponents.
Cameroon were fortunate to escape bigger disappointment against Ireland after they let go their first-half advantage immediately after the break. Some of their touches looked classy and they did create a few openings but their defence showed up far too many soft corners.
Dogged as ever, Ireland put up a strong show in the second half and some extra motivation was evident in their spirited performance. Collective hard work, not technique or tactics, was the inspiration behind their comeback and though the ‘Lions’ didn’t panic under sustained pressure, they were distinctly nervous in the closing stages.
Competition in this group will get more intense and it promises to be the contest to watch after the one in the ‘Group of Death’.
Mohun Bagan eves move into title roundMohun Bagan eves reached the finals of the IFA women’s league Saturday. In the semi-final, they beat Income Tax 3-0. Shanta Dhara, Chaoba Devi and S. Roy scored the goals for Mohun Bagan. In the second semi-final, East Bengal take on Nabajanma Monday.
National, Modern winNational High School won the B.R.C. students’ rowing championship for boys Saturday. In the final, the National High team defeated Khalsa School, creating a new meet record of 2 minutes 16 secs.
In the girls section, Modern High School A won the title beating Gokhale Memorial in the final.
Md. Sporting in finalThe Mohammedan Sporting senior and under-13 squads made it to the finals of the All-India Pepsi Trophy played in Bangalore Saturday, according to information received here.
Summarised ScoresMohammedan Sporting Seniors 180/6 (Urvesh Sharma 70, Aloke Chettry 66; S. Madhavan 4/33). BPCA (Bangalore) 131 (S. Girish 37; Anirban Gupta 3/4). Md. Sp. seniors won by 49 runs.
Mohammedan Sporting under-13 253/6 ( S. Purokayasthya 104, Aniket Nandy 70). St Patrick 169/9 ( S. Garry 44; Md. Irfan 5/29). Md. Sp. under-13 won on better run rate.
Rakhi Sangha have it easyThe Rakhi Sangha girls team made it to the finals of the 19th state junior basketball championships Saturday. In the semi-final, they outclassed Barisha AC 50-14. In the other semi-final, 24 Parganas South defeated BBYS 33-20.
The Rakhi Sangha boys team also made to the semi-finals edging out 1923 Chhatra Samity 69-68. Two other semi-finalists, Burdwan District and BBYS, have been identified.
State badmintonThe All-Bengal ranking badminton tournament under the auspices of the State Badminton Association began at the Haldia Refinery Employees’ Club Saturday. A hundred and sixty players from different parts of the state are taking part in the five-day tournament, with the final scheduled for June 5.
Aquatics meetEleven meet records were created on the second day of the Calcutta District age group swimming meet Saturday.
Results (NMR only)Girls: Pushpa Banik (CSH, 50m breaststroke), Amrapali Das Gupta (Bowbazar, 50m backstroke), Debolina Rajak ( Bel SA, 50m butterfly), Piyali Adak (HC, 50m butterfly)
Boys: Dinesh Prosad (Khidderpore, 50m breaststroke), Rahul Shah (Bowbazar, 200m breast stroke), Aviroop Dutta Mazumdar (College Square, 200m freestyle), Dinesh Prosad (KSC, 50m back-stroke), Spandan Banerjee (College Square, 100m freestyle), Sabyasachi Chatterjee (Hatkhola, 50m butterfly), Spandan Banerjee (College Square, 50m butterfly).
2.30 pm: Franco Leone 1. Little Genny 2. Sheer Blossoms 3.
3 pm: Diamond Harbour 1. Silver Feathers 2. Tassha 3.
3.30 pm: Ampersand 1. Ashleen 2. Belief 3.
4 pm: Royal Liberator 1. Snow Dew 2. Ansbach 3.
4.30 pm: Adolfito 1. Pretty Move 2. Fabulous Star 3.
5 pm: Snow Deer 1. Spark of Zeus 2. Star Above 3.
5.30 pm: Barroness Orczy 1. Kyosoba 2. Circus Maid 3.
Day’s Best: Royal Liberator
Double: Ampersand & Snow Deer.
Saturday’s Bangalore results
1st race: Star Illustrious (Prakash) 1; Sea Royale 2; Fly For Fame 3. Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 11; 14; 14; Quinella: 34; Shp: 33; Tanala: 85.
2nd race: Regal Falcon (Prakash) 1; Royal Carnival 2; God’s Gift 3. Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 10; 13; 42; Quinella: 16; Shp: 25; Tanala: 213.
3rd race: Step In Time (I. Chisty) 1; Patriotic 2; Telegram 3. Tote: Win Rs 62; Place: 19; 21; 14; Quinella: 259; Shp: 68; Tanala: 1,394.
4th race: Taipan (M. Narredu) 1; Spark of Life 2; Refresher 3. Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 11; 16; 18; Quinella: 37; Shp: 38; Tanala: 122.
5th race: Florale (Mr Storai) 1; Baira 2; Ankole 3. Not run: Conquering Goddess (9). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 14; 16; 32; Quinella: 38; Shp: 42; Tanala: 409.
6th race: Purple Princess (Prakash) 1; Antequera 2; Indian Rocket 3. Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 15; 14; 13; Quinella: 44; Shp: 41; Tanala: 302.
7th race: Inside Story (C. Alford) 1; River of Stars 2; Dare You Say 3. Tote: Win Rs 420; Place: 70; 11; 13; Quinella: 221; Shp: 52; Tanala: 3,662.
Jackpot: Rs 91,427 (Carried over); (C) Rs 143.
Treble: (i) Rs 355; (ii) Rs 7,175.