The title of this post says "interesting" but probably should say "shocking". I am currently on page 107 of Herschelle Gibbs' To the Point and have just read the section about match-fixing. We all pretty much know the story - Hansie Cronje, South Africa's captain at the time offered a few players, one of which was Gibbs, money to perform badly in the last match of a series against India - a series South Africa had already lost. Gibbs originally agreed to it but then decided not to and smashed 74 off 53 balls, an innings I clearly remember watching. I would put it up there with some of his top one-day innings.
However, check out this extract: "During a tour to India in 1996, we were due to play a benefit game for one of the Indian players [who I assume to be Mohinder Amarnath] - 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 willing to give us US$250 000 if we lose this game.'
Gibbs goes on to say that 6 of the team were out injured, Jonty wasn't playing and Gary Kirsten was the wicket keeper and SA were probably on a hiding to nothing anyway. And then this: "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. Pat Symcox - always an oke willing to look at all sides of the equation - thought it was worth some consideration. He wasn't the only one."
What? What is the other side to the equation? The side that says anything other than "we shouldn't throw a cricket match". or "we're representing our country, should we do it with pride or not?"
Gibbs does mention one person who was totally against taking the bribe, Andrew Hudson. He also admits that he, himself, along with Symcox considered it. Hansie obviously brought it to the table. The mentions of these names make it seem like 7 other players may have considered it (who were Gary Kirsten, Daryll Cullinan, Derek Crookes, Nicky Boje, Brian McMillan, Fanie de Villiers and Paul Adams).
The scorecard for the game is here.
According to the book, only one player was categorically against throwing a match for US$250 000?
It was the end of a tour, a game that didn't matter - merely a benefit game. But when is it ok to do something like that? To consider chucking a game that means nothing - in fact because of the celebratory nature of the fixture, it would have been better for India to win.
But if that's ok then are small amounts of corruption ok? The type that no one knows about which doesn't influence anything big? The ZAR/US$ exchange rate on 13 December (the day before the match) was R4.73=1US$, which means that US$250 000 was a nice R1 182 500 package.
What about the match we lost to Holland at the end of the England tour in 1994? That didn't matter much. And yes, the elephant in the room is Pakistan losing to Bangladesh in a match that didn't matter in the 1999 World Cup. These thoughts do come up when these revelations are outed.
Hansie did it. We know this.
Herchelle thought about it and got into huge shit and apologised. I was chuffed when he came back after his 6-month ban. He admitted what he did and made reparations. I hated him at the time but forgave him when he quite obviously felt horrific about the whole scenario. I'm still up and down about it at times, to be dead honest (as this paragraph makes out).
But to find out that Vinnige Fanie and Pat Symcox, South African heroes, those players who were so full of gees that we could win from anywhere, that they considered throwing a game? Even considered! Well that saddens me.
I feel disrespected as a South African whose emotions were dictated by the fortunes of the South African cricket team. I watched us play every time I could, from matches against India and Australia, to exhibition games, to fixtures against Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands.
Gibbs does mention in the chapter that Boucher and Kallis were also approached by Hansie Cronje and that they both rejected his proposal. It doesn't say whether they deliberated like Symmo and the match squad in 1996, but I am going to assume they didn't (please god).
But even considering throwing a match, no matter how important...
...well, it hurts guys.