Cape Town - Former South African cricket captain Kepler Wessels says his comments regarding Hansie Cronje’s match-fixing scandal were blown out of proportion.
Wessels sparked controversy last month when he was quoted in Australian media saying he believed Cronje was involved in match-fixing long before he was caught in 2000.
Cronje, the former Proteas captain who died in an aeroplane crash in 2002, admitted to taking bribes from bookmakers to influence matches since 1996. He was banned from all cricket-related activities for life.
Wessels was interviewed by Fox Sports for their Cricket Legends documentary programme.
He played for both Australia and South Africa - and the documentary, shot in November last year, was aimed at showcasing his career.
In an interview with Pretoria-based Jacaranda FM, Wessels said the documentary had nothing to do with match-fixing.
“It’s extraordinary, the documentary was about me being embraced and recognised as an Australian cricket legend and that was what the documentary was about. The match fixing thing was literally a minute out of the interview,” Wessels said.
“It was misconstrued, sensationalised as these things happen, but when you are in this position then I suppose you have to accept that from time to time it will happen, but it’s unfortunate.”
Wessels said he had no gripes with Cronje, who replaced him as South African captain in the mid-1990s.
“I got on very well with Hansie when we were playing. I thought he was an excellent captain, a very good player and I’m very close to his family as well so from my point of view I’ll never say anything derogatory about him,” Wessels continued.
“I think we all know it was a tragedy what happened and probably one of the saddest things that’s happened in South African cricket. So from that point of view, it’s just a pity that all this erupted out of all that, I’m still not quite sure how it happened.
“My last words on that brief part of the show was that he didn’t deserve what came his way... I’ve known Ewie and San-Marie - his parents - all my life, my parents were friends with them. Bloemfontein in those days was a small place, it’s a bit bigger these days but everybody was all pretty tight...
“Hopefully it’s all been put to bed now and people will understand that the whole interview had absolutely nothing to do with match fixing, it didn’t have anything to do with Hansie in that way either.”
Asked why he never shared his views when Cronje was trialled, Wessels responded:
“I was next to testify at the King Commission and obviously I suppose those things would have all come out. I guess they would have asked me some other questions as well but before I could get there they closed the whole King Commission down so that was that...”