Williams provides twist to Cronje scandal

Tainted South African pacer said he was forced to lie about bribe offer from his captain.

Henry Williams
In a shocking twist to the infamous match-fixing scandal of 2000, former South Africa pacer Henry Williams said he had not received any cash offering from his captain, the now deceased Hansie Cronje, to underperform in a one-day international against India.

Williams, along with Herschelle Gibbs, was banned for six months each from cricket, while Cronje received a life ban and died two years later in a plane crash.

"When we testified to our lawyers what the story really was, they came up with a threat that we could be prosecuted for doing something like this," Williams told the Sunday Times, explaining that he and Gibbs were pressured into cooking up a story in order to build a stronger case against Cronje.

Cronje at the Kings Commission inquiry"It's just the truth. It's long gone and I've made peace with the whole story," Williams told the paper.

"I can never forget about it, but I forgive what's been done to me."

At the Kings Commission inquiry in 2000, Williams had said Cronje had offered him $15,000 to concede more than 50 runs in his 10 overs in the fifth and final ODI against India in Nagpur in the same year.

Williams injured himself in his second over and the ‘deal’ was not seen through. Similarly, Gibbs said at the inquiry that he had been offered the same amount to score less than 20 runs – and he too botched it by scoring 74 quick runs in the game that South Africa won by 10 runs.

Now, Williams’ recent comments offer a new spin to the story.

The lawyers at the centre of this event, Mike Fitzgerald and Peter Whelan, have flatly denied Williams’ story adding that both players had tried to lie their way out of trouble at first.

"That's outrageous. Why would I give my own client a version that implicates him?" Fitzgerald told the Sunday Times.

Whelan called the claims "fundamental rubbish".

"Mike Fitzgerald and I knew all along that Herschelle (Gibbs) was lying,'' said Whelan.

Gibbs, who is playing the Big Bash League in Australia, wasn’t available to comment.

On January 10, he posted what he said was his last tweet to his 109,000-odd followers on Twitter. “My last tweet peeps.. its been shweet,thanks for the chats,” he posted.

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