The Centurion Test of 2000 was a big game for me. I had done reasonably well on my first England tour but had not contributed that much by changing a match or making a hundred. It is a story of match fixing.
The weather in Pretoria was awful and we spent most of the week being told there would be no play. It had been a long, hard tour against a strong South African side. We were staying in Sandton in Johannesburg and commuting each day to Pretoria.
We were told not to go to the ground because of the weather so quite a few of us had a good time enjoying the bars and long lunches on offer in Sandton. There was no play on days two, three and four so we spent the week on the beer.
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Last day of match:
Then on that final day, we realized there was a chance of play. There were many talks going on about forfeiting innings and setting a target. As a junior member of the side I was not involved in any of those discussions but knew there was something unusual going on.
We started the last day bowling and realised the pitch had flattened out. Hansie Cronje agreed to 245 in 75 overs but they hit a four off the last ball to make it 249. Still, we could chase down this target.
We lost early wickets and felt we could lose the game so started bedding in for a while. Then I remember they brought on Pieter Strydom, a part-time left-arm spinner. Hansie bowled himself and lobbed up a few outside off stump for me. The intensity had dropped. They wanted a result.
I made 69 and we won the game with Goughie belting the winning runs. It was a great feeling. My first Test win. I had made a score and was named man of the match. It meant I ended the series believing I could perform at Test level and that I belonged in international cricket. It was a big step forward in my career.
I never suspected match fixing. Why would you as a young player? However, the one thing that struck me as strange was why that South Africa team had decided to give us a sniff. They were a hard bunch and very tough competitors. They were a bit like Australia in that regard, and yet they agreed to a deal. I remember thinking a few days later, that it was odd.
However, I was still stunned when it broke a few months later that Cronje was doing anything to get a result as part of his deal with a bookie.
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