Former SA cricketer Henry Williams, who was implicated in the Hansie Cronjé match-fixing scandal in 2000, has lashed out at the media, claiming that he never said his lawyers had pressured him to lie under oath.
“It’s all bull****,” an angry Williams told the Cape Argus yesterday.
“Everyone has jumped to conclusions,” he said.
“They have turned a sniff of information into some other story.”
In his testimony during the King Commission of Inquiry in 2000, Williams said that Cronje had offered him and Herschelle Gibbs $15 000 to play poorly during the one-day international against India in Nagpur.
“I had to (concede) more than 50 runs in my 10 overs,” he added. “And Gibbs had to score less than 20 runs.”
After the commission, the pair were fined and banned from playing cricket for six months. Gibbs returned to national cricket but Williams, who had been a fringe player at the time of his ban, never resurfaced.
This weekend, a Sunday paper reported Williams saying that Cronje had never mentioned an amount, rather Williams’s lawyers had pressured him and Gibbs to include numbers to strengthen the case against the SA cricket captain.
“This is completely wrong. First of all, I never mentioned Gibbs,” he said.
“And I was never pressured by my lawyers Peter Whelan and Mike Fitzgerald to lie. They were there to protect me.”
But Williams does admit that his testimony was false. The former bowler, turned Boland cricket coach and avid pigeon racer, said on the day of the ODI in Nagpur he was in the shower when Cronje approached him.
“(He) was joking with me,” said Williams. “He was wearing this funny face, asking if I was ready to open the bowling. Then he says to me, why don’t we throw the game? I thought he was joking so I just went along with it. (Cronje) was always a funny guy.”
According to Williams it was only after the game, wherein the bowler injured himself and was unable to bowl more than two overs, that he discovered Cronje’s true intentions.
“We were sitting down, and he had become all serious. He said ‘the deal’s off’,” said Williams.
He said that when he presented this testimony to the King Commission of Inquiry, they didn’t believe his story.
“I asked them, ‘what do you want me to say?’” he said.
“I gave them the same version but with numbers attached. I know how this looks. I look like I’m bringing a ghost out of nowhere,” he said.
“First it’s printed that I’m blaming the lawyers and now I’m blaming the commission, but this is the truth.”
The 45-year-old said it has been 13 years and he just wanted to see the end of something that should have run its course.