A Conversation for Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Power of Myth
And Introducing... A Leg Started conversation Jun 7, 2002
There seems to be another classic parallel with myth in the story of Hansie Cronje, in this case a Shakesperean tragedy.
Hansie was born into an ordinary Afrikaner family, but rose more through hard work than natural gift, into being one of the greatest cricketers of his generation, ultimately suceeding Kepler Wessels as South African captain, the second since the country's re-admittance into the international sporting fold.
His importance in South Africa cannot be underestimated. Hansie Cronje encouraged the playing of cricket in black areas and did much to repair race relations in his country following apartheid, and, leading his team through some great performances, gave some pride to his countrymen. He was a hero, loved by most, respected by all.
But as with all Shakeperian tragic heroes, Hansie had a fatal character flaw. In his case it was arrogance, the same that had served him so well in his rise to the top, and many, particulary those from other teams had noticed. This was accompanied by a certain amount of greed.
When he was first approached by a bookmaker with suggestions of match fixing, Hansie Cronje was tempted. At first this was a small matter, the odd dropped catch, or throwing his own wicket away. But he made suggestions to other players as corruption grew. A key moment occoured in one test match against England. South Afica had had a reasonably good first day batting, but the next three days were rained off. With good weather on the last day the game appeared to be heading for a very dull draw. Then Hansie suggested to the England captain, Nasser Hussein, that both teams abandon an innings, going straight from South Africa's first to England's second. Engalnd reached South Africa's target with two wickets to spare, and most saw this as a good moment for cricket. Hansie was given £5,000 from the bookmaker who had suggested it to him.
Then Indian police recorded a telephone conversation between Hansie and Indian bookmakers. At first he denied the allegations, but finally confessed all. He was immerdiately sacked, not just as South African captain, but also as a player. The South African Cricket Board later imposed a lifetime ban.
Not even allowed to present cricket on TV, Hansie eventually set up a new business arrangement. While working on this in a different part of South Africa, Hansie missed his flight home. He took a lift on a cargo plane, which, for reasons unknown, hit a mountain. Hansie was killed instantly.
While Hansie's myth was not the same as Diana's -- hers was global, his national -- the parallels are notable. Both rose up from reasonably (but not very) humble origins. Both became heroes among their own people, and indeed both did a great amount of good work. Both had personality flaws -- Diana's being her addiction to publicity. Both met untimely deaths in accidents not directly connected to their problems, but to which they were indirectly led by them.
I wonder what Shakepere would have said of Hansie. Probably that his story was as tragic in its own way as that of Macbeth.
a girl called Ben Posted Jun 9, 2002
I remember this, but not being a South African, I was aware that it had hit the South African psyche deeply, but not how deeply.
This could be a guide entry itself. Why not write it up and put it into Peer Review?
Thanks for your comments.
All the best
And Introducing... A Leg Posted Jun 11, 2002
Yes, I'd like write it up at some point, but there's quite a few other things I want to do in the meantime, so it'll be quite some time before it gets done.
I'm glad you like it.
All the best,
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