Dr Ali Bacher: I will give you a bit more detail thereafter, but after I'd spoken to him he phoned the president at ten past three and repeated the same comments to him.
At 3:30 this morning the two of us met, the president (of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, Percy Sonn) and myself, and we decided there and then to withdraw Hansie Cronje from the national team for the three One-Day Internationals against Australia.
In essence what he conveyed to both the president and myself as follows: that during the triangular One-Day series in South Africa between Zimbabwe, England and South Africa, contact was made with him by a local South African, we shall not mention his name at this point in time, and a bookmaker of Indian origin based in London.
Discussions took place and the end result of this in South Africa is as follows: that Hansie Cronje was given between ten and fifteen thousand US dollars, which he took home and as of today he has not deposited the money or put it into an account, but he did receive that money.
During the tour of India he was harrassed continually by bookmakers. He conveyed to both the President and myself that he was not and has never been party to match-fixing. He also said to us that the three other players incriminated are innocent of that charge and we'll indicate to you shortly a meeting that the president and myself had with our team at quarter past one this afternoon.
Let us say unequivocably that we in South African cricket are shattered, unequivocably. We want to say unequivocably that the United Cricket Board and the government have been deceived.
At 6:30 this morning, I phoned Rushie Magiet, the convenor of the national selection panel, and without going into any detail just indicated to him that the captain will not be participating in the three matches and that he should contact his selectors, appoint a new captain, give it to the president, announced here at 3 o'clock, and also, if desired, announce a replacement batsman.
The President and myself, we left this game park at quarter to seven this morning, the Australians are still there and will be coming back tomorrow morning. During our travels to Durban we discussed this issue and we agreed immediately that as a matter of urgency we will ask the government, and we have asked the government, to institute an inquiry into these allegations.
As you know the ICC has an existing Code of Commission Conduct, all the Test playing countries have a representative on this committee, our representative is Justice Albie Sacks, he is in the States at this point in time, we will make contact with him today/tomorrow and hope that he can come over to South Africa to lead this inquiry for us. We have been in contact with the Minister of Sport, who is very supportive of assisting the process whereby a commission of inquiry is instituted, independent of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, as soon as possible.
We have been in contact with David Richards, and he is fully familiar what has transpired in the last 12 hours.
Let me in conclusion say that, I think on Sunday night, we said that the issues at stake were very, very serious. We do have a crisis on our hands in South African cricket, we can not escape that reality. But at a quarter past one, the President and myself went to speak to the national team, the national captain. We conveyed to them exactly what we conveyed to you here. We then asked all the players to indicated to us whether any of them had ever been involved in match-fixing or part of this process. All of them, including Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje, denied any involvement or association, at this meeting. And then in conclusion we said to them, we need all to rise above this crisis. Shaun Pollock has been made captain. He's a player with an immense future ahead of him, he has a very good cricketing brain on him, his feet on the ground, and we have every confidence in the team, the country will rally behind Shaun Pollock and make the next three One-Dayers against Australia an outstanding climax to what has been a very difficult season for many of us in South African cricket.