Editorial - Come on, Hansie, let's bat for the children of South Africa

Dear Hansie Cronje

I am sorry to hear that your appeal to the high court to have the life ban on your plying your trade in South Africa was unsuccessful. The law must be respected, and given the severity of your crimes, it would be difficult to disagree with the ruling.

But ours is a forgiving nation, especially if wrongdoers show remorse.

Many don’t believe that you have shown genuine remorse for your actions. But we aren’t the ones who should play the role of judge and jury.

You must know that millions of South Africans - including schoolchildren and youth - and people around the globe worshipped you because of your exploits since South Africa’s readmission into the international cricket fold.

The court has ruled against you, but it can be argued that the nation is slowly beginning to accept and forgive your dishonesty as captain of the national team.

According to the Bible, Jesus chastised his disciples, who wanted to punish a prostitute, with the admonition: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Hansie, you sold your soul for money and betrayed the country. But let any person without sin cast the first stone at you, a man who went from hero to zero.

Hansie, it is conceivable that there is still a place in the fans’ hearts for you. During the recent court bid to overturn the United Cricket Board’s ban, it emerged that you want to secure the right to earn a living and put something back into the game. I understand the UCB isn’t entirely opposed to your writing a column, nor can the board prevent you from being involved at some level in the game - particularly at schools.

Perhaps it is time to put right the wrongs you have done, and start the healing process by putting your money where your mouth is. You claim that you want to play a positive role in promoting “clean” cricket in the country and helping to develop cricket in disadvantaged communities.

If that is so, then consider this invitation to team up with the Teacher to promote the sport at schools throughout the country. I would imagine there would be no better act of service if you chose to write articles advising children on the techniques of the game.

Furthermore, you could get involved in organising clinics in disadvantaged communities. It is obvious that high-profile local and foreign players play in the townships in order to gain media attention. Children at poor schools throughout the country don’t enjoy the facilities and equipment that cricket academies offer.

I believe that your international experience, understanding of the game and apparent willingness to want to right your wrongs should be tapped in a positive manner. This newspaper has a circulation of 108 000 copies. It is distributed free of charge to every public and private school in the country, has a growing subscriber base and is on sale nationwide.

If you really want to play a role in developing the future generation of South African cricketers and prove that fallen heroes can resurrect their tarnished reputations, then you should consider batting with the Teacher.

The newspaper would like to play a part in your rehabilitation by positively harnessing your talents for the future of the game in this country. Our publication will not offer you hundreds of thousands of rands, like one pay television station reportedly did when you shared your story with them.

Instead, we extend a hand of friendship and the opportunity to prove that you really care about the children and youth of South Africa.

Sincerely

Edwin Naidu

- The Teacher/M&G Media, Johannesburg, November 2001.

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