This one's emotional. I can't help it. He was my hero and I was shattered when he admitted to the match-fixing allegations. But his death was even more painful. Sometimes, I still can't believe that one of the greatest South African captains ever, is no more.
You might hate him and accuse him of bringing cricket down to a low from which it still hasn't recovered. But you can't deny his captaincy skills. Hansie was a leader. A leader that played a huge part in pulling a nation out of a great tragedy. The apartheid was fresh in their minds when SA re-entered international cricket. Hansie and his men were partly responsible for re-kindling their love for South Africa again. It remains one of cricket's greatest achievements.
Hansie Cronje was also a solid support system for players like Pollock, Gibbs and Kallis...all of whom went on to become South African cricket greats. The South African line up of Cronje, Rhodes, Kirsten, Cullinan, Donald, Pollock, Kallis, Gibbs, Symcox, Boucher, Klusener etc. still sends chills down my spine. What a team! Despite their failures and their 'choking', they always remained the team to beat.
I miss him immensely. Graeme Smith may be a good captain at times, but I doubt he will ever be able to ignite the passion that Hansie could in his men. He had fire and courage, even in his worst days.
I don't know how current South African players look at his contribution to cricket. But I hope he is not forgotten and I really hope that amidst all the match-fixing talk, Saffers take out a few minutes on his birthday to remember their fallen hero.
Cricket Minded salutes Hansie Cronje. Happy Birthday Captain.