Williams admitted to lying about the testimony he gave during the trial in 2000
When the match-fixing case against the late South African captain Hansie Cronje first emerged, it took the cricketing world by storm and rocked the sport to its core, but more than a decade later, details about the events are still being revealed, as former Proteas bowler Henry Williams recently admitted that Cronje never offered him US$ 15,000 to concede more than 50 runs during the fifth ODI against India in Nagpur in 2000.
Williams had said the exact opposite when giving his testimony during the King’s Commission in 2000 and as a result, he received a six-month ban, but never ended up representing South Africa again.
During Cronje’s trial, batsman Herschelle Gibbs also noted that he was offered the same amount to score less than 20 runs.
Cronje was slapped with a life ban, but the Commission were never able to reach a final verdict since the ex-captain was killed in a plane crash in 2002.
However, Williams recently revealed that Cronje had just joked around with him and Gibbs and were told to pad their stories up for the hearing against their former skipper.
During the match that they were supposedly told to fix, Williams suffered a shoulder injury after bowling only 11 deliveries and Gibbs went on to score 74 runs.
Williams admitted that he was afraid of what was going to happen to him and added that there was a lot of pressure on him to produce a more thorough story, even if parts of it were not true, to prove that Cronje was guilty of match-fixing.
“It was serious then, and after that I thought, alright, life must go on: it can’t stop,” Williams said. “But at that particular moment there was fear.
“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. So it means we actually lied to our lawyers, who had to tell another story to get to somebody. I believe that was to get to Cronje and whoever was involved in this.
“I had never been in a court before. We gave our Senior Counsel the story. We had to come back and testify to the King commission – a different story. I don’t know if we were forced to lie to get to somebody else. I’m still confused today.
“When people ask me I will tell them the truth. I’ll say, ‘That’s what I said to my lawyers; what really happened’. Then, to the King commission, a different story. I don’t know why, because we were forced by the prosecution. I didn’t know what the hell was happening, what can happen to me. So I came up with a different story.”
This version of Williams’ story was never heard by the Kings Commission and the former seamer went on to reveal what had really happened that day.
“By the time I was in the shower [the morning of the Nagpur match], I heard Cronje in the room speaking to Herschelle but I don’t know what they are talking about,” Williams said. “When I put my shirt over my head, he [Cronje] said, ‘Hey, let’s throw this game’. I said, ‘Ja, let’s throw this game’. Because now he’s smiling with me and I’m smiling with him – if you’re going to bullshit me I’m going to bullshit you, so fine. There was nothing involved.
“At lunchtime, he [Cronje] came to me and said, ‘We scored too many runs’. I looked at him and said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Guys, the deal is off’. I said, ‘So what?’ He never spoke to us about money – you’re going to get this and you must go for that.”
Senior counsel Mike Fitzgerald and attorney Peter Whelan, both of whom represented Gibbs and Williams during the hearing, stated that they had never convinced Williams to lie about the events of that day.
“That’s outrageous,” Fitzgerald said. “Why would I give my own client a version that implicates him? If I somehow persuaded him to lie, to whose benefit would that be?”
Whelan went on to call the allegations against him and Fitzgerald as “fundamental rubbish”.
The King Commission secretary John Bacon noted that the investigation would not be reopened unless they received what Williams had said in writing.
Williams is currently working with the Boland Under-19 team, while Gibbs freelances as a Twenty20 specialist in domestic tournaments around the world.
Gibbs recently represented the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League (BBL) and refused to comment on the situation.
“I spoke to Herschelle and he wasn’t interested in commenting,” Scorchers media manager Daniel Davini said. “He said, ‘I have nothing say about that and I don’t want to have anything to do with that’.”