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Soul rehab in Hansie’s hometown

Two hours from East London is Bloemfontein, sleepy hometown of the late Hansie Cronje, one of South Africa’s most successful captains. About seven years after the match-fixing tainted cricketer died in a plane crash, his influence remains strong in the region, reports Rakesh Thapliyal.

cricket Updated: May 04, 2009 01:22 IST
Rakesh Thapliyal

Two hours from East London is Bloemfontein, sleepy hometown of the late Hansie Cronje, one of South Africa’s most successful captains. About seven years after the match-fixing tainted cricketer died in a plane crash, his influence remains strong in the region.

Cricket lovers in the town don’t condone Cronje’s match-fixing sins. But he is still a role model for scores of young cricketers and is held in high esteem for having had the courage to own up his mistakes in front of the world.

Officials try to ensure the young only imbibe Cronje’s good qualities and cricketing skills.

The Border Cricket Union Academy (BCUA) inside the Buffalo Park Stadium provides state-of-the-art coaching. It has also enlisted the services of a social organisation, Living Waters, to give lessons on ethics and morals to players. Lessons on what should, and should not, be done.

“Living Waters specializes in imparting such lessons,” said Themba Lupuwana, chief executive of BCUA. “We approached them three years ago, after which they started the programme. We call these sessions ‘Rehabilitation of Soul’.”

Asked if the Cronje experience had prompted the programme, Lupuwana said, “We all know Cronje didn’t do the right thing. You won’t find another cricketer in the country to have done such a thing. But we want to ensure that even episodes like the one involving Herschelle Gibbs, who was caught for drink-driving and then had to do hours of community service, do not happen. Right from a young age, we want to make cricketers aware of the temptations that come with stardom and how to prevent them from influencing one’s life.”