Is this another cricket smear?
Cape Town - Almost 13 years after South African cricket captain Hansie Cronjé was exposed as a match-fixer, fellow cricketer Henry Williams has come forward claiming he was pressured by his lawyers to lie under oath.
But Peter Whelan and Mike Fitzgerald, who represented the bowler and Herschelle Gibbs during the King Commission of Inquiry, say his accusations are “utter nonsense”.
“(His) contention that I persuaded him to perjure himself is outrageous, nothing could be further from the truth,” Whelan told the Cape Argus on Sunday.
In his testimony during the King Commission of Inquiry on June 9, 2000, Williams said Cronjé had told him and Gibbs that there was a certain amount of money they would receive if they lost the one-day international against India in Nagpur.
Williams, after being asked by lawyers how much was offered, said the amount had been $15 000.
“I had to (concede) more than 50 runs in my 10 overs,” he added. “And Gibbs had to score less than 20 runs.”
In the end, neither cricketer received a cent. Williams injured his shoulder and was unable to bowl more than two overs while Gibbs went on to score 74 runs.
But Williams told the Sunday Times that Cronjé had never mentioned an amount, rather that his lawyers had pressured him and Gibbs to include a number to strengthen their case against the SA cricket captain.
After the commission, the pair were fined and banned from playing cricket for six months. Gibbs returned to international cricket with the Proteas, but Williams, who had been a fringe player at the time of his ban, never resurfaced as a player on the professional scene and has become more well-known in the sport of pigeon racing. Whelan said that Williams’ suggestion that there was “some sort of conspiracy” against the SA cricket captain fell apart when one looked at what actually happened.
“Cronjé never disputed Williams or Gibbs’s testimonies,” said Whelan. “You would think if they were lying he would having something to say.”
The lawyer added that when the match-fixing scandal first broke, the implicated cricketers had all denied any involvement.
Gibbs, who is playing with the Perth Scorchers in Australia’s Big Bash League, could not be contacted for comment.
Despite repeated attempts, Williams could not be reached for comment. Cricket South Africa spokesman Michael Owen-Smith said that it was the Department of Sport and Recreation’s decision whether any further action would be taken.
“We will obviously offer our full co-operation, as we have done in the past,” said Owen-Smith.