Jonty Rhodes was in conversation with Anand Narasimhan, senior editor, Times Now, during day two of Goafest 2018.
Among the things the duo discussed was 'the straight talking Graeme Smith', 'choking tag' associated with the country and reasons for why Hansie Cronje got involved in match fixing.
"I played under Kepler Wessels who had a 'my way or the highway' captaincy method. He was the most experienced having played cricket for Australia before moving back to South Africa. Then came Hansie Cronje who had what people refer to now as 'people skills'. He was a great man manager. Shaun Pollock was an incredible cricketer and had an incredible cricketing brain.
"Then came Graeme Smith. I was working with the bank as sponsorship manager when we first launched T20 cricket in South Africa in 2004. I saw Smith's leadership style then. He was 22 and fairly critical. The media loved him. In press conferences he would say stuff like - 'We didn't win, because we didn't score enough runs in the first five overs'. Back then Gibbs and Kirsten opened the batting and Smith came in at number three. Gibbs and Kirsten would be playing the likes of Brett Lee bowling at 150 kmph and probably thinking about surviving. So, he openly criticised players. He improved over time and brought in the fire."
On the choking tag, Rhodes recounted each game that was a defining factor in World Cups.
"In 1992, it was our first outing in a World Cup. We made it to the semi finals and then lost due to the rain method back then. It favoured the team batting first and we had actually benefited from it earlier in the tournament. In the 1996 World Cup, Brian Lara scored a brilliant 100 on a slow, turning pitch in Pakistan. In 1999, against Australia we were chasing 213. As we walked back into the dressing room, Cronje stated that we conceded about 10-15 runs more than we should have even though we restricted them to 213. We were doing well at 50-0 and then came Warne on a pitch that had become slow and low and claimed four wickets in almost four overs. Then, Kallis and I had a partnership before getting out close to each other. We ended up tying the game and not actually even losing it."
Narasimhan then asked him about Hansie Cronje and why he may have got involved in the match fixing saga.
Rhodes stated, "Salaries were low. Cronje was always driven by money. When we were touring England and spending about 30 pounds on dinner, Cronje would eat at McDonald's instead. He was first involved in giving information to the bookies. The same info was actually given to journalists. We were the number one team back then, and were rarely losing. Bookies wanted accurate results and probably looked towards 'spot fixing'. He would always be joking in the dressing room. So when he walked in asking if anyone wanted to earn a few thousand dollars, everyone thought he was joking again. But, unfortunately Herschelle Gibbs didn't think he was and agreed to getting out for less than 20."
Jonty Rhodes himself wasn't on that tour to India because his ex-wife wanted him to stay back for the birth of their child. And Rhodes claims that if he was there back then, as a good friend of his, he may have been able to speak Cronje out of it.
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