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Bacher: Henry Williams’ story a one-day wonder

Hansie Cronje

Calcutta: The long-forgotten (and disgraced) Henry Williams is back in the headlines, but nobody seems to be alarmed by his claim that he’d actually lied before the South Africa government-appointed King Commission, which inquired into match-fixing in 2000.

Even if Williams did lie under oath, why this admission 13 years later?

Justice Edwin King’s inquiry eventually led to a life ban on the-then captain Hansie Cronje and six-month bans on Herschelle Gibbs and Williams.

According to Williams, a medium pacer, Gibbs also lied under oath, to strengthen the case against Cronje. The opener has quickly distanced himself from his one-time teammate.

Cronje died in an air crash two years later. Officially, an accident in awful weather, but even today, not everyone is convinced.

Many still wonder if he was silenced.

Williams never played for South Africa again, while Gibbs made a comeback and wore the national colours till May 2010.

“My blood pressure didn’t go up when I read the report in the Sunday Times... Looks to be without substance and this Williams story is a one-day wonder, nothing more,” Dr Ali Bacher told The Telegraph.

He was speaking from Johannesburg on Monday afternoon.

Dr Bacher, now chairman of a top-ranking NGO, Right to Care, was then the managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa. It has since been rechristened Cricket South Africa.

In fact, Dr Bacher was particularly close to Cronje, so much so that the latter called him at the very unusual hour of 3.00 am to make a “confession.”

Much changed with that one call.

According to another source, Williams may have had “an extra drink or two” before talking to the newspaper.

Ironically, South Africa won the match — an ODI against India in Nagpur (March 2000) — which was said to have been fixed in parts by Cronje!

Gibbs’ 74 was the second-highest score for South Africa; Williams had to go off after bowling only 11 deliveries. Time enough for him to dismiss Sourav Ganguly, the India captain.

That was Sourav’s first series as the full-time captain.