Netflix ‘Bad Sport’ Fallen Idol Review: Must Watch for All Cricket Fans — How Will History Judge Hansie Cronje?
On the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s first ODI since international readmission on 10th November 1991 against India, we review Netflix’s Fallen Idol episode of their series ‘Bad Sport.’
This is Hansie Cronje’s story & his fall from grace during the infamous match-fixing scandal. What was going in Cronje’s mind? How did his teammates and family feel? What about the South African public? And most importantly, what was the investigation like?
Fallen Idol Detail & Information
Episode Name: Fallen Idol
Netflix Summary: Hansie Cronje captivates South Africa as the nation’s charismatic cricket captain, but allegations of match fixing besmirch his sterling reputation
Protagonist: Hansie Cronje
Major Characters: Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs, Jonathan Agnew, Cronje’s brother, sister, and wife, and Marlon Aronstam, bookie that started it all.
Release Date: October 6, 2021
Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes
Other Episodes: Hoop Schemes (USA college basketball), Need for Weed (Auto Racing), Soccergate (Juventus scandal), Gold War (2002 Winter Olympics), Horse hitman (Show Horses)
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Hansie Cronje Fallen Idol Summary and Review
The episode begins by the dramatic introduction of Marlon Aronstam, the bookie himself, who admits that
“I should never have been able to get close to him.”
The addition of bookmaker, journalists, as well as Allan Donald & Herschelle Gibbs, Fallen Idol goes to the next level. With a series of interviews, we get to know who Hansie Cronje really was and the circumstances of that time.
The documentary traces it step back and walks us through the brief history of South African cricket circa 1992. Violence, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and the reinstatement of South African cricket. Where did Cronje fit in this complex society?
Cronje’s character is painted as this prominent unifying figure of post-apartheid South Africa, whose stature is only next to the great Nelson Mandela.
Next, the series dives into the details of his rising captaincy & career. We swiftly get into the backdrop of India’s illegal betting environment along with Delhi police’s investigation into the matter of match-fixing.
Hansie Cronje’s untainted heroic figure comes crashing down as allegations surface. The film ends with his unfortunate death in a plane crash, but not before it all comes together at the end with the live jury video and Cronje’s confession.
“I cannot tell you the huge shame that it’s caused me, the great passion I have for my country, great passion have for my teammates, and the unfortunate love I have for money…Yes I accepted money from bookmakers. Yes, I was trying to feed them information. But I promise you every time I walked onto the field, I gave my all for South Africa.- Hansie Cronje
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Verdict: To Watch or Not To Watch?
Without a doubt, this is a must watch documentary episode on one of cricket’s most polarizing figures.
Think of this as extended YouTube highlights meshed into a professionally made documentary. There are highlight packages for the casual cricket fan to enjoy — SA vs Australia (Cronje’s captaincy debut), England vs SA (The infamous double forfeited Test feat Nasser Hussain), and SA’s tour of India.
What makes this a beautiful heartfelt documentary is the first hand experience of those closest to Cronje. How did they feel during the investigation and when he confessed? The fans and administrators were crushed for sure, but what is so revealing in the documentary is how his trusted friends and family felt.
I even had a couple of teardrops at the end. Keep a tissue nearby while watching this. Emotions Galore.
How will History Judge Hansie Cronje and Life Lessons We All Can Learn From Him
We can now reflect back on South Africa’s readmission to cricket. 30 years on, wounds have not healed. They may have even become exacerbated. With Quinton de Kock & the knee affair in the T20 World Cup, the quota system, and racist allegations within the team surfacing in recent hearings, the fabric of South African cricket society is unraveling. The documentary hints that even though Cronje was a symbol of unity, he did pressure Herschelle Gibbs & Henry Williams, players of mixed and colored origin.
When the match-fixing saga happened, I was too little to remember anything. Later when I grew up, I always had a negative image of Cronje.
Objectively, Cronje damaged international cricket’s credibility and hurt fans all around the world.
However, what this documentary revealed to me is that there are several layers to consider before making a naive judgment. Hansie Cronje (and for that matter, Mohammad Azharuddin) were influential cultural icons of their time, beyond cricket.
Hansie Cronje was human. Humans have flaws. He confessed that he always gave it his all for the country, but money got the better of him. And there was his Achilles’ heel.
His brother mentioned at the end that South Africa has been through a lot, it is a forgiving society especially in context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Politicians with criminal background have been forgiven and are now parliamentary members.
Forgiveness is an important life lesson in all of this. At the end of the day, we can only come together and live peacefully, both internally and externally, if we forgive.
Will history forgive Hansie Cronje? Will you?
I will leave you all with this quote.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”- Martin luther king jr.
Who Was Hansie Cronje?
Hansie Cronje was without doubt one of the greatest captains in cricket, especially for South Africa. You probably remember the semi-final drama that ended South Africa’s WC dreams under his captaincy, but he was much more than that. Here are some stats and figures.
Born: 25 September, 1969
Died: 1 January, 2002 (32 years old)
Hansie Cronje Stats
Tests: 68 matches, 3714 runs, best of 135, 36.41 average, 100s/50s — 6/23, 43 wickets, Best Inn — 3/14, Best Match — 5/34
Captained: 53 Tests, Won 27, Lost 11
ODIs: 188 matches, 5565 runs, best of 112, 38.64 average, 100s/50s — 2/39, 114 wickets, Best — 5/32
Captained: 138 ODIs, 99 Wins, 1 Tie
- Most consecutive matches as captain of an ODI Team (130 ODIs — and you guessed it right, the 2nd on this list is none other than Mohammad Azharuddin)
- Test series win in India
- Test series victory against all countries not named Australia
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Image Courtesy: Ghaith baazaoui, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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