COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO CRICKET MATCH FIXING AND RELATED MATTERS
HELD ON: 07-06-2000
AT THE CENTRE OF THE BOOK
MS BATOHI: Mr COMMISSIONER, the next witness will be Patrick Leonard Symcox.
COMMISSIONER: Mr Symcox, are you prepared to take the oath?
PATRICK LEONARD SYMCOX: (sworn states)
COMMISSIONER: Thank you.
MR FITZGERALD ADDRESSES COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER. I do have a statement which I wish to hand in, but before handing it up to you there are two aspects with which I need to deal. They both relate to incidents which in our submission are relevant to the Commission, and in particular to paragraph 4, and more particularly 4.1(11) of your Terms of Reference, which relates to approaches having been made to any players. Both incidents, Mr COMMISSIONER, relate to a time-span which, as it were, pre-dates your Terms of Reference.
The first incident relates to a member of the South African National Cricket Team at the time. The second incident relates to a international player, who is obviously not a member of any South African team.
If I may deal with the second incident first. It's a current international player, and for reasons which we submit are valid, Mr Symcox is reluctant to disclose the identity of that player. That player's identity, with respect, doesn't, in our submission, relate to your Terms of Reference in any way, but it is a question which has been put to Mr Symcox in the past and prior to his giving evidence, as to whether he was aware of any other approaches, and he felt duty bound to make such a disclosure. So he is prepared today to make reference to that incident, but would prefer not to disclose the identity of the international player.
COMMISSIONER: I have no problem with that. You give me the assurance that it doesn't detract from the validity or the value of Mr Symcox's evidence, and I am happy to accept from you, and from him, that there's good reason for not disclosing this persons name. Is that also the incident which extends beyond the Terms of Reference?
MR FITZGERALD: That is so.
COMMISSIONER: Yes. Well, there I'm most - I don't know if there will be any objection from anyone, I'm prepared to listen to it, but again I'm happy in these things to trust to Counsels good sense and judgement not to traverse beyond the strict Terms of Reference, unless what is to be covered is relevant to matters which fall within the Terms of Reference. And I think on that basis you can proceed, Mr Fitzgerald.
MR DICKERSON: Mr COMMISSIONER ...(intervention)
MR FITZGERALD: Mr COMMISSIONER, before my learned friend objects, the second incident relates to, again prior to your Terms of Reference and we submit it is relevant, it relates to a South African player. I am mindful of the fact that you do have the power or that your Terms of Reference may be added to, varied or amended in due course. The problem I have is a practical one, is that Mr Symcox is only available this afternoon, regrettably. He leaves for overseas later this week, and will be back in two months time, so unless this evidence stands over for two months while amendments et cetera are sought, it would seem to be from a practical perspective, in my submission, advisable to allow that evidence to be led today, pending any variation. There is a practical consideration in that regard.
COMMISSIONER: MR DICKERSON, do you have a problem with that?
MR DICKERSON ADDRESSES: Mr COMMISSIONER, yes. The one incident that's - well, both incidents that are referred to, but I refer particularly to the latter, falls outside the Terms of Reference. We've been furnished with the information concerning the incident in question, that's alleged to have taken place in 1997. The Term of Reference to which paragraph A4.1(11) refers is the period 1 November 1999 to 17 April 2000. Clearly therefore, an incident in 1997 falls outside the Terms of Reference.
And with respect, as we read paragraph A4.2 of the Terms of Reference, it does not, with respect, empower the Commission to amend the Terms of Reference, but rather to permit the expansion of the Terms of Reference after or upon the Commission making a finding that it is necessary for an earlier period to be investigated. The one is the precursor to the other, and on that basis we would object to the incident in question.
COMMISSIONER: I have to place myself in a position when I - to decide whether or not to admit the evidence if I don't know what the evidence is, in terms of 4.2. Surely the evidence must be led and if I conclude that it's beyond the Terms of Reference as they stand at the moment, subject to Mr Fitzgerald's right to ask me to make the necessary amendment, the evidence can be led, and if it turns out not to be relevant, I shall ignore it.
MR GAUNTLETT ADDRESSES: Mr Chairman, in this regard, my we support our learned friend for the players, Mr Fitzgerald, on two bases? One is, as we understand it, your Terms of Reference give a ...(tape is blank for a few seconds) chronological flare path, but that there may be aspects, for example on the day preceding the commencement of the exact period to which your Terms of Reference relates, which might throw some light on the events within.
But secondly, Mr COMMISSIONER, your Terms of Reference contemplate flexibility and adaptation, and we would respectfully submit that you should receive the evidence, but that you should receive it provisionally and if you decide that for some reason it's irrelevant, then you may discard it. Otherwise, and I don't invite you at this stage to solicit the immediate ruling from the Minister, who I see has joined us, but it would be possible at any stage for you to indicate that you have a certain difficulty in the conduct of the Commission, such as would properly require you to raise with the Minister a possible adaptation of the Terms of Reference.
So we would, in conclusion, suggest the approach adopted by the legal representatives on behalf of Mr Cronje is inexplicable, and that the proper approach is that indicated by Counsel for the other players, and that is provisionally to receive the evidence, subject to a final ruling by you.
COMMISSIONER: You see, I suppose also - I don't know what the evidence is, but I suppose it's also possible, and we are a Commission of Inquiry and not a Court, I emphasise, to receive this evidence as an evidence of tending to propensity for a particular course of conduct. So I think, MR DICKERSON, I shall allow it, and it will be provisionally so, and if I'm satisfied that it's so prejudicial to any member, your client or anyone else, I'm always prepared to reconsider it, or simply ignore it. But we'll carry on, on that basis. Mr Fitzgerald.
EXAMINATION BY MR FITZGERALD: Mr Symcox, if I can start with some background information. Is it correct that you first represented South Africa, the National side, in 1993?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR FITZGERALD: You retired from international cricket, I understand, in May 1998.
MR SYMCOX: That's correct.
MR FITZGERALD: And you retired from representative cricket during the 1999/2000 cricket season.
MR SYMCOX: Yes, that's correct.
MR FITZGERALD: I understand, and this rather dates you, you started your cricket career in Kimberley in 1977 for Griqualand West.
MR SYMCOX: That's correct, as well.
COMMISSIONER: You say that dates him, do you? (laughs)
MR FITZGERALD: And you were a regular member of the South African National side during the period 1993 to 1998.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR FITZGERALD: And you were involved both in Test Series, both in South Africa and abroad.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR FITZGERALD: You represented our country both in Test matches and One-day Internationals.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR FITZGERALD: Your current employment is what?
MR SYMCOX: I work for myself, on the one hand, and I'm also contracted to Super Sport, which is broadcasting and doing a television show every now and again.
MR FITZGERALD: May I before, I proceed, just hand up to you, and then to the COMMISSIONER, a copy of your statement which you signed? Will you just confirm - sorry, first to Mr Symcox. Can you just identify your signature on the last page? That is your statement and you confirm the contents of that statement.
MR SYMCOX: Yes, I've signed it so I'm - it is mine.
COMMISSIONER: Do you have a copy for me, Mr Fitzgerald?
MR FITZGERALD: That is your copy, Mr COMMISSIONER.
COMMISSIONER: Oh, I see, that's mine.
MR FITZGERALD: Mr Symcox, may we begin with what I think is now commonly known as the 1996 offer that was made to the South African team? Can you describe to the COMMISSIONER what in fact happened, and in doing so also have regard to the context. And perhaps we can start by putting the offer in context with particular regard to the time of the tour and the nature of the tour.
MR SYMCOX: Okay. The 1996 tour, which I was a member of, was probably, of all the tours that I've been on, and I'm - was the most difficult tour from a circumstantial point of view. We were going into unknown territory in India, on tough wickets, and against a good opposition at home. And we ended up losing a Test Series, up front, and then got involved in a One-day Series, which meant we travelled quite a lot around India.
Now the whole travel programme and fixtures were based on moving us around the country as much as possible, at as early in the morning as possible, and arriving as late as possible without the cleanest of buses. And having the worst practise facilities as well, at times with clothes and sometimes without, that had got lost.
So the tour was a really, really tough tour. It was, for me, one of the first times that we'd experienced playing at places like Eden Gardens, with 100 000 people, and the Bombay's of the world. And the conditions very foreign. Obviously under the food problems that one experiences and the water problems, and people getting sick. So it was a really tough, tough tour.
And we got to the point in the tour where, like all tough tours, at the end of the tour the resistance of people are down. People are feeling sick; people want to go home; you've lost the Series, there's really nothing in it; and it just - everybody seems to spiral down to a slow grind of going home.
The last game of the tour was to be Mahindah Armenath's Benefit Match, which we'd agreed to via the United Cricket Board. And then at a late stage in the tour, they changed it to become a One-day Test, an official One-day Test, which we were unhappy about, because at that stage we felt we were playing a One-day Test under the wrong circumstances. Also, what was upsetting was it was Hansie's hundredth time he would play for South Africa, and if they didn't make that a One-day Test, he would then be able to play his hundredth one the following season, which was the first game in Bloemfontein, in front of his home crowd. And so he was upset as well, that it was done so by the UCB.
But nevertheless, we were on tour and we got stuck in and got involved. And prior to the start of the game, or the day of the play, we attended a meeting in Hansie's room. He asked the players to come to the room. There were no Management involved, and he put it to us that he had received an offer on behalf of the team, if we were interested in losing the match.
MR FITZGERALD: Was any amount referred to?
MR SYMCOX: You know, it was four years ago, but I can somehow remember 250. Now it wasn't a 500 and it wasn't 120. It was somewhere round there. 250.
MR FITZGERALD: 250 what?
MR SYMCOX: U.S dollars. $250 000 U.S. So he put it to us that he'd had an offer on behalf of the team, or to talk to the team, and he put it to us. And it went round the room. Obviously, this is the first time that any of us, well, certainly myself, but I'm sure any of the guys had sort of had this kind of thing thrown at us. You know, there's been a talk around world cricket for quite a long time that ja, there is betting that goes on, but we were foreign to it.
And so you sort of thought, 'Well, that's quite a lot of money, you know, especially when you divide it by the Rand'. And it went round the room, some guys, including myself, were like, 'Hey, this is quite a lot of money. Maybe we should look at it.' There were seven guys who - I'm not mistaken, there were about seven guys that felt not fit to play. For instance, Fanie de Villiers had been sick. He had to get out of bed to come to the meeting and actually play the next day. We didn't have Jonty, we didn't have Allan. Dave Richardson was sick, so - Derek Crookes had been sick on and off the tour. So it was going to be tough to win anyway.
Anyway, it went round the room as all sports meetings do. Some guys for, some guys against, and eventually it got to a point where Andrew Hudson brought up the fact that he couldn't go with it. He didn't think that we should get involved in that. And he was supported by Derek and Darryl Cullinan.
MR FITZGERALD: Derek who?
MR SYMCOX: Derek Crookes and Darryl. And they sort of said to the guys that you know, this is something that we don't want to get involved with. We haven't been involved in it before, although other teams may have, and we're walking a bad line here, and we should consider this very carefully. And as the consensus was, Hansie said if that's the case, then if that's how the guys feel, then it's a no-go. We're not getting involved. It was a team decision. And that's where that meeting ended.
MR FITZGERALD: Mr Symcox, there've been conflicting reports in the media, inter alia, about how many meetings there were. Are you aware of any further meetings that took place with regard to the offer?
MR SYMCOX: Ja, I've also read that there were 3 meetings, 5 meetings, but I can't - all I know is I went to that meeting. There was that meeting, definitely. And then straight after that meeting, there was - it wasn't a meeting, there were players that sat around afterwards, had a chat, like a gathering, and we discussed it, like it would normally come out on any tour where there's senior players. And 4 or 5, or 4 players I can remember sitting around, in the room, just chatting. Hansie on the bed, and we were just chatting about the decision that had been taken.
And we laughed and joked about it, and then someone said, 'Why don't we try and see if we can get any more out of them? Let's see how far they'll go.' Which at the time wasn't a bad thing, you know? So Hansie picked up the phone, phoned, put down the phone and said, 'We've got another $100 000 U.S.' Phew, just like that. And then suddenly there are only 4 of you. You know, the cuts a big difference then, all of a sudden. Anyway, we laughed, and then eventually it was Hansie that actually said, 'Guys, I'm not comfortable with - if the whole team aren't involved and other guys aren't here, there's no ways we can actually get involved in this.' And we left it at that. Finished a beer and walked out. And that was the other meeting, if that was a meeting more then a gathering, that I was involved with.
COMMISSIONER: Are you in a position to tell us who the other ones were at this gathering, subsequent to the meeting?
MR SYMCOX: You know, I remember 4 guys and I can't remember the fifth, but I know Dave Richardson was there, and I think Brian McMillan was there and Hansie was there with myself. Hansie was lying on the bed, somebody was sitting on the corner, I sat on a chair next to the bed, and that was it.
MR FITZGERALD: Was the fact that the offer had been made something that you in particular kept secret about on your return to South Africa? Was there any decision amongst the team that this shouldn't be disseminated?
MR SYMCOX: I can't remember that we talked about saying, 'Look, don't tell anybody', kind of. It wasn't - we just dismissed it out of hand, and we talked about it amongst ourselves on the tours, I mean, you know like all cricketers, we're all sportsmen, everybody in the team sort of talks about it, so it wasn't that I wouldn't speak to Darryl maybe about, 'Hey, do you remember that time we had that meeting?', kind of, you know? It was talked about.
MR FITZGERALD: Thank you. Can we now turn to the next time - or let's deal with - I'm not sure if it follows chronologically. Have you ever been approached on any other occasion with regard to influencing a match or doing anything which shouldn't have been done?
MR SYMCOX: Yes, I have. On two occasions.
MR FITZGERALD: Can you describe the first of those occasions to the Commission?
MR SYMCOX: The first one, again is a player I wouldn't like to mention, call him Mr X, booking into a hotel room in either Bombay or Delhi, at the door said Hallo and chatted, and just exchanged words, and then said would I be interested in getting involved in some betting on a match. And we talked and I said, 'No, I didn't think - It's no, I couldn't do it.' And besides, I thought - well, probably for two reasons.
One was it was hell of a strange to ask me, because I can't really help you. Firstly, I didn't even know if I was going to be in the team or not. And secondly, I still at that stage in 1996 thought I had about 10 years of cricket left, you know. So I said, 'No'.
COMMISSIONER: Was this just you and this Mr X that were in this conversation?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
COMMISSIONER: I'm not sure that I follow.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR FITZGERALD: Was Mr X on his own at the time or was there anybody else with him?
MR SYMCOX: Ja, there was another guy with, standing next to him, but he wasn't sort of part of the conversation. He just happened to be - it looked liked he happened to be walking with him, from behind him. So he wasn't party to the conversation, but he was sort of standing 2 or 3 metres behind him.
MR FITZGERALD: And the next occasion that you were approached?
MR SYMCOX: I think the issue that you're referring to here is the one that is in question, in Terms of Reference. In 1997, before the commencement of the Cape Town One-dayer against Pakistan, in the Mandela Trophy, Hansie called me and asked me to come down to his room and have a chat, which I often did, and we talked about the game, and then he asked me how I thought about an offer he'd received on behalf of, again, of the team, to lose the match against Pakistan. I thought it was a bad idea, especially on the fact that I'd not been playing for the previous couple of games to that, and I'd just been brought in. But I didn't think it was worthwhile. I thought we could beat Pakistan anyway, and I wouldn't want to be part of it. So my advice to him was to not even worry about that and just let's get on with the game. And he agreed with it, and I assume that's what he did.
MR FITZGERALD: And who won the game?
MR SYMCOX: South Africa did.
MR FITZGERALD: Right. Can I just briefly deal with betting generally? Have you ever bet on any cricket and the outcome of any cricket game?
MR SYMCOX: No, not as yet. But now that I have retired I might. (general laughter)
MR FITZGERALD: Other than the incidents to which you've referred, have you ever otherwise been approached or involved or - in any attempt to influence a game in any way?
MR SYMCOX: No.
MR FITZGERALD: Okay. Are you aware of any other South African cricketer who has been so involved?
MR SYMCOX: No, I'm not.
MR FITZGERALD: Okay. Can you briefly describe to the Commission of what you know of colloquially known as 'Banjo', but I'm told his real name is Hamied Cassim. Do you know the gentleman?
MR SYMCOX: Yes, I know - if he walked in, I would be able to say Hallo to him, and greet him and say, 'How are you?'. But outside of that I wouldn't know. He's always been around in the team hotels, and just always around in our presence. And he has - whatever his business interests were I don't know, but to me he had formed quite friendship relationships of, 'Hi', and, 'How are you?', and he often dropped off biltong, which is quite a good call. If you want to get close to some of the players, give them the biltong, you know. And I just - the one - I never got a handle on him, I never felt that I knew him or liked - I disliked having outsiders close to our team, as the team members would tell you. Anybody that was foreign in the change-rooms or anywhere near us, I disliked.
And the one time that I did - he was visiting in the room, I was sharing a room with Fanie, and he popped up to give him some biltong, and I questioned that fact, and said I'd prefer not for him to be in the room because I don't particularly like guys being in our rooms. And that was it. So I've never really got close to the guy, but I know who he is.
MR FITZGERALD: And was he somebody who spent a lot of time with or about the team?
MR SYMCOX: I'm sorry, I missed the first part of your question.
MR FITZGERALD: Was Hamied somebody who spent a lot of time with our about the team, generally?
MR SYMCOX: In my time I saw him around quite a bit, ja.
MR FITZGERALD: Finally, I don't want you to speculate because - well, firstly, what is your view on speculation and looking at events with the benefit of hindsight?
MR SYMCOX: Well, there are two things that go through my mind, and obviously speculation is not good because it can lead to people speculating on the speculation. But I've played cricket for 25 years, and so I have a right to my own opinion, and sure, that might be speculation, but that's my opinion. But it is dangerous to speculate if you don't speculate from a solid base. Some people would say any speculation is bad, but at times you can speculate from a solid base, but it is dangerous. And things can change, and what one opinion is might be a different opinion to somebody else.
MR FITZGERALD: Well, without speculating, can I ask you to comment on one incident, because there has been reference very often to Mr Crookes having opened the bowling in India. Can you just confine yourself to that incident? Can you express any view on what you thought of that?
MR SYMCOX: Well, it wasn't irregular to me, certainly. I opened the bowling for South Africa in One-day Tests many times, back-to-back, many games in a row, in actual fact. One of the tournaments was the Mini World Cup in Bangladesh where I opened the bowling for 3 games in a row. So it wasn't irregular for me that an off-spinner, or a spinner, open the bowling. Sitting in my lounge watching the cricket from India, in India, not having been in the team meeting or whatever, maybe it made sense. Certainly, if there was a left-hander, and Ganguly was batting and the wicket is turning, then it's not bad. I wouldn't think it was anything funny.
MR FITZGERALD: You were certainly not averse to ever opening the bowling yourself.
MR SYMCOX: Sometimes it was the only way I could get a bowl.
COMMISSIONER: You don't think there was a book on Bangladesh winning there, Mr Symcox?
MR SYMCOX: I think Eddie Barlow's writing that now.
MR FITZGERALD: Mr Symcox, finally, as an ex-player what is your view of this Commission?
MR SYMCOX: Well, look, as an ex-player I would say that my biggest asset and the assets - the biggest thing that I have in my life and all the players have is to have represented cricket for South Africa. I couldn't think of doing anything bigger in my life time, and I was honoured and proud and it's been a privilege. And if that in any way is tainted, then I would be disappointed and I believe that all the players would as well. And if we would do - I would certainly like to do anything that can help to make sure that the thing that I hold most dear, cricket, and having played for South Africa is held in the highest regard it possibly can.
MR FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR FITZGERALD
COMMISSIONER: MR DICKERSON.
MR DICKERSON: Mr COMMISSIONER, I've discussed this matter with my learned friend, Miss Batohi, and I think our understanding is that in instances where she has interviewed witnesses, the appropriate procedure would be for her to examine the witness before we cross-examine. There may be matters which she wishes to canvass, and of which we are not aware.
COMMISSIONER: Are you agreeable to that procedure, Miss Batohi?
MS BATOHI: I have no problem with that, and perhaps at the end of it if I feel there's any further questions that need to be put, perhaps I could ask for that indulgence.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS BATOHI: Mr Symcox, I'm going to first deal with the 1996 offer in India. Do you recall - I have spoken to Bob Woolmer and he seems to recall he was present at that meeting. Do you recall whether he was there or not? Can you confirm that?
MR SYMCOX: Bob Woolmer was not at that meeting.
MS BATOHI: So he was not?
MR SYMCOX: He was not at that meeting. Would you put yours off? Thanks. Bob Woolmer wasn't at the meeting. Definitely not.
MS BATOHI: Do you recall that a suggestion was made that if the team agreed to this offer, that nobody was to know about it, including the wives of the members of the team? And that will be the evidence of one of your colleagues.
MR SYMCOX: I cannot recall that at all.
MS BATOHI: Is it correct that this offer was, notwithstanding the fact that you've painted this very bleak picture about what was going on at the end of the tour, which I suppose is understandable as well, but do you accept that this offer was seriously considered by the team?
MR SYMCOX: I wouldn't say 'seriously', but I you know, when somebody makes an offer to you, you listen to it the first time you're tainted with it or touched it, and then I don't believe that at the end of the day anybody would have taken the loot.
COMMISSIONER: Can I just interpose? Did you acknowledge that offer as being seriously made?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MS BATOHI: Did you at any stage ask Mr Cronje who had made that offer to him?
MR SYMCOX: No.
MS BATOHI: Weren't you curious to know where all this money was coming from?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MS BATOHI: So why didn't you ask him?
MR SYMCOX: I don't know.
MS BATOHI: Well, Mr Symcox, I find that strange. You were curious to know where this money was coming from, but you don't ask him and you don't know why you didn't. Can you explain that?
MR SYMCOX: Well obviously you find that strange. I - you know, again, it's a matter of opinion.
MS BATOHI: Well, I'm going to ask you the question again. You were curious to know where the money came from, but you didn't ask Mr Cronje at any stage who was - where this money was coming from. Now, I do find that strange. But that's just my opinion. But can you explain why you never asked him, notwithstanding the fact that you were curious about where it came from?
MR SYMCOX: We - I just assumed, like I guess most of the guys in the room, that it would have been from a syndicate that is involved in this kind of thing.
MS BATOHI: Did any other member of your team ask Mr Cronje where this money was coming from?
MR SYMCOX: Not that I can recall.
MS BATOHI: Did any members of the team at any stage, amongst yourselves whether in the presence of Mr Cronje or not, talk about where this money was coming from?
MR SYMCOX: Well, we assumed it was from a syndicate of some sort, whether it's bookmakers or people that are involved in betting on games, because that has been the general chat around cricket the world. So if somebody said he'd got an offer to throw a game, you would assume it wouldn't be from the Prime Minister. It would be from a betting syndicate, or a bookmaker, or a - or a something.
MS BATOHI: But no one ever ask Mr Cronje where it was in fact coming from?
MR SYMCOX: Not in my presence, and I didn't.
MS BATOHI: A lot has been spoken about perhaps in the media and amongst people, about whether Hansie Cronje ought not to have dismiss this offer outright when it was first made without actually bringing it to the team's attention and discussing it as such. What's your views on that?
MR SYMCOX: Well, I guess, again as you said, 'What's my view', it's not necessarily the correct view, but maybe at that point in time, it was our first trip to India in a Test Series, and it was certainly Hansie's first time as Captain in a Test Series on a tough tour, and he's a young guy, you know, he might have made an error of judgement by not dismissing it out of hand straightaway. But like any of us, he would have found it interesting, I've no doubt, to hear we'd made an offer.
So maybe he should have dismissed it, but on the other hand, I would have been disappointed to find out today that Hansie had been made an offer on behalf of the team, dismissed it and didn't tell us.
COMMISSIONER: Surely that would have been the proper thing to do. Just to dismiss it out of hand and tell whoever was making the offer to get out.
MR SYMCOX: And then to tell us that he'd done it. That he'd had an offer to make - and then maybe that's probably the right way to have gone at that time. But you have to understand that - you know, South Africa had got back into international cricket in 1992. Our first tour was in 1993. So really, we were finding our way at that time. The guys that you see in the team today were young guys, finding our way in the sub-continent.
MS BATOHI: You've stated that it isn't very wise to speculate, and perhaps you're right, with the benefit of hindsight, but if one looks at your statement, EXHIBIT A, on page 8, paragraph 9.2, you say:
"I readily admit that I have from time-to-time speculated on decisions made by Hansie Cronje during his tenure as Captain."
And then you go on to say:
"I have, indeed, questioned certain of his decisions."
Now what are those decisions that you've questioned?
MR SYMCOX: Well, I mean, I sit in my lounge and I watch cricket. I am entitled to question any decision that - as anyone in this room is allowed to question. And if that's speculation, then it's speculation, you know? But maybe what I was trying to say to you was if you speculate on a game of cricket and I speculate on a game of cricket, I've got a pretty good chance of being - knowing what's - getting it right, better then you have.
MS BATOHI: I know you are entitled to speculate about things, but I'm looking at your statement. And paragraph 9.2 says:
"I have, indeed, questioned certain of his decisions."
So what I'd like you to enlighten this Commission on is what are some of those decisions that you have questioned, and let the Commission decide whether there's anything to make of it or not. What decisions have you questioned?
MR SYMCOX: Well, you know, there was an article that I'd given an interview a little while ago, and I was asked what I thought of the World Cup, and of course I questioned certain issues, i.e. whether we batted first or bowled first, whether the batting order should have been what it was, who should be left out, who batted where. But those are legitimate speculation, from somebody who's been in the team for quite a while and knows how the system works, and finds that certain decisions were different to what I would have made had I been the Captain. So that's - that is where I speculated. I think that's the point that I was meaning.
MS BATOHI: You've been asked to comment on the fifth One-day International against India, where Derek Crookes opened the bowling. And according to your statement, you say you cannot understand why this has been made an issue. Now perhaps the reason why it has become an issue is because the transcripts of the tape, which we all know about, refers to that, to the fact that Crookes will be opening the bowling in that particular match. And what would you now say if Crookes himself comes and testifies that the was in fact himself surprised, because he'd been told that he will not be opening the bowling. He will not be considered for opening the bowling. Now with hindsight, what do you think about that decision?
MR SYMCOX: Again, what Derek Crookes says about whether he opened the bowling nor not, I don't know and have never discussed it with him. Sure, the transcripts might have said whatever they did. I wasn't even aware of that. All I was asked on did I find it strange that Derek Crookes opened the bowling. Certainly wasn't, because I'd done it many times, so why would I think it strange?
MS BATOHI: You've commented about the fact that you knew this person, Cassim Banjo, or Hamied Cassim, also known as 'Banjo'. Can you comment on his relationship with Mr Cronje?
MR SYMCOX: No, I can't.
MS BATOHI: Why is that?
MR SYMCOX: I don't know anything about a relationship with him and Hansie Cronje.
MS BATOHI: I've no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MS BATOHI
COMMISSIONER: I think, Mr Gauntlett, I'm going to call on you, and go down in the direction away from you.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR GAUNTLETT: Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER. Mr Symcox you've described quite graphically the state of mind of the team as it faced the prospect of playing that benefit match, and that as I think you indicated, they were most disenchanted with the fact that the game was going ahead in the circumstances you've described. That applied generally to the players, did it? Was it a sort of general state of mind, nobody was particularly keen on the game?
MR SYMCOX: Definitely not.
MR GAUNTLETT: Yes. No, but I mean, it's important that there were not a couple who were doing press-ups at the prospect and really pushing for the game.
MR SYMCOX: No, definitely not. No, I don't remember one single person wanting to play that as One-day Test.
MR GAUNTLETT: So that state of mind then, we can take it had nothing to do with the fact that very different reactions followed to the offers which you've described. In other words, it's not that there were those, who like Fanie de Villiers, were physically sick, which influenced them, and there were others who were particularly fit. Everybody didn't want to play that game.
MR SYMCOX: That's how I remember it.
MR GAUNTLETT: And that general state of mind then, had nothing to do with the reactions to the offer which followed. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: That's correct.
MR GAUNTLETT: Mr Symcox, I think you answered the COMMISSIONER that you took the proposal conveyed by Cronje in the way you've described as being a serious proposal. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: And secondly, I take it from you answer, that it was considered very seriously by you and a number of other team mates.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: From which I would think it would follow that in circumstances, you and others would seriously respond to the serious offer by seriously taking it. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Sorry, repeat that again. It sounds hell of a complicated.
MR GAUNTLETT: No, it's not that hard. It's this. It's a serious offer, and you took it seriously. As far as you're concerned, Mr Symcox, had the mood gone the other way in the room? Had a few other spoken out? Could that offer have been accepted?
MR SYMCOX: I don't believe so.
MR GAUNTLETT: You don't? Do you believe that there was no prospect of that offer being accepted that day? The first time it was conveyed to you?
MR SYMCOX: Just say it again, please. My mind ...(intervention)
MR GAUNTLETT: Yes. Do you believe that there was no prospect of the offer being accepted at the team meeting you've described?
MR SYMCOX: I would have been very surprised if that team, that day took such an offer, because there was a lot of resentment to it in that room.
MR GAUNTLETT: You see, because this ...(intervention)
MR SYMCOX: And had - sorry, thanks. And had they in any way - if there were people that were serious, yes, listen first and then thought they would go further with it, it would never have even got to that point.
MR GAUNTLETT: Well, could you just then explain to the COMMISSIONER what you mean by the statement, in paragraph 5.7 of your written statement, where you conclude by saying:
"We did take it seriously at the time."
Just in your own words, would you tell the COMMISSIONER what does it mean to take a serious offer seriously at the time?
MR SYMCOX: Well, when you get called to - asked to go to a meeting, and it's - an offer is put to you, no matter what it is, you take it seriously up front, and you listen, and you digest it. I think that it taking it seriously. And then if it gets rejected out of hand after that, then that's where it is. It's rejected. But that doesn't mean to say you haven't taken it seriously.
MR GAUNTLETT: I see. So the short point though, and I think you've answered that already to the COMMISSIONER, is that certainly your own state of mind was not one of outright rejection.
MR SYMCOX: Not initially. You'd like - it's nice to hear what was going on.
MR GAUNTLETT: I'm sorry? What is nice ...(intervention)
MR SYMCOX: Not initially. Initially, I wanted to hear - we all wanted to hear.
MR GAUNTLETT: Alright. Now could we go to that first meeting? You indicated that there were not Management involved, and you answered our colleague Ms Batohi, that in particular Mr Woolmer wasn't there. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now, why wasn't - why was it a team meeting with no Management involved? Why were they not there?
MR SYMCOX: I didn't organise the meeting, so I was asked to come to the meeting.
MR GAUNTLETT: Sorry, I didn't ask you whether you organised it, Mr Symcox. You go to a lot of meetings. Why, to repeat the question, what did you think when you saw no Management was there? Why was there no Management there? What inference did you draw?
MR SYMCOX: Well, obviously when you get to a meeting and there's no Management there, there's a good reason why, and that is because it was a money offer and that was to be decided by the players. And those players were going to make that decision, as we talked about. It certainly wasn't going to involve the Coach and the Physiotherapist and the Doctor.
MR GAUNTLETT: But potentially, it could influence the outcome of the match, couldn't it? It could pull a game.
MR SYMCOX: If what happened?
MR GAUNTLETT: I'm sorry. We cut against each other. Would you repeat?
MR SYMCOX: It could - what did you say - I didn't...?
MR GAUNTLETT: I said to you potentially it could affect the outcome of a game. That surely concerned Team Management.
MR SYMCOX: Sorry, I'm going to ask you to just go back. I missed that first part of the question.
MR GAUNTLETT: Surely it could have affected the outcome of the game. It affected Team Management, as a consequence.
MR SYMCOX: I think the issue here we're talking about is do you accept an offer to throw a game or not. And once you've made that decision, it's no, it's not going to affect the Team Management at all.
MR GAUNTLETT: Yes, but we're going round in a circle, Mr Symcox. You went to the meeting to seriously consider the serious offer. You didn't know at that stage that it would be seriously rejected, did you, otherwise you wouldn't go to the meeting.
MR SYMCOX: Yes. I didn't know what the offer was before we got there.
MR GAUNTLETT: Well, I'll come back to that aspect. But may I just ask you about the team meeting? We've established then, there's no Management there. And it's been put to you that it will be the evidence that some of the players were specifically told not to disclose what was communicated to you to their wives. You yourself have no recollection of any such discussion amongst the players?
MR SYMCOX: I don't. And I would have found it very strange that a player would not tell his wife what's going on. When it comes to that, certainly.
MR GAUNTLETT: Yes. Now, the meeting you say there was no real debate as such. But then you've told the Commission 3 people who you recall as expressing a view against the acceptance of the offer, and you've explained to the COMMISSIONER how, in the ordinary practise, the discussion went round the room. Correct?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: So did everyone get a chance to speak?
MR SYMCOX: As I recollect, yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: And was it just then the team that was due to play the next day which was there, or were there others who were present?
MR SYMCOX: That team hadn't been selected I don't believe, because there were all of us - all the guys in the squad were in the meeting.
MR GAUNTLETT: So it's the whole squad as you recall it, apart from those you've - you've already explained, those who had already left to go back?
MR SYMCOX: Yes. Allan Donald and I think, Jonty.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now you've indicated to the COMMISSIONER that you didn't understand this offer to be being made by the Prime Minister. It was pretty clear from the circumstances it would have to be some sort of betting syndicate. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: And was that made apparent early on, I take it, when Cronje, lying on the bed, said, 'Look, there's been an offer, and this is the nature of it.'?
MR SYMCOX: Yes. He made - that's exactly what he said.
MR GAUNTLETT: What is exactly what he said?
MR SYMCOX: We'd been made an offer as a team to throw a game, and were we interested? What should we do?
MR GAUNTLETT: And you had no doubt that the offer was from some sort of betting syndicate?
MR SYMCOX: Well, I would have thought it would - that's what I said. It was not going to be the Prime Minister. It had to be somebody involved in that kind of business.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now was there any initial indication by Cronje in putting the offer that, 'Look, we have people in South Africa, we have the Cricket Board, we have kids and whoever else believe in us. We're being asked to pull a game. I mean, this offer's been conveyed to me and I'm just putting it to you, but I think it's dishonest, we can't do it.' Anything like that?
MR SYMCOX: Not that I can recall.
MR GAUNTLETT: ...(cellphone rings) Apologies, Mr COMMISSIONER. For once I couldn't blame the Press. Not that you can recall. Now it was Hudson, was it, who spoke up along those lines, pointing to the dishonesty, fundamentally, of the proposal. Is that right? As I understand it, he indicated that he wasn't prepared to countence (?) this kind of thing.
MR SYMCOX: Amongst others, he was one of the guys, yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: Crookes was another?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: And was Cullinan much to the same effect?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: And their answer was really squarely - or their response was squarely one of saying, 'This kind of thing'. It was a suggestion of dishonesty. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: Was there any response by the others to that?
MR SYMCOX: Not that I can recall. I can remember us all just having a turn to say how you felt. And I can remember specifically Daryl, Derek and Andrew Hudson. Those were the 3 that stuck out in my mind that were very strong about it.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now you told Ms Batohi that you don't recall there being a sequence of 3 meetings, but there was something of an after-meeting, is that right? Comprising some of the senior players, and you've identified them as being yourself, Richardson, McMillan and of course, Cronje.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: You, again as I understood your evidence, took seriously Cronje picking up the phone, putting through a call and then reverting to you and saying he could get an extra $100 000. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Ja, we were quite amazed. Ja.
MR GAUNTLETT: I'm sorry?
MR SYMCOX: We were quite amazed.
MR GAUNTLETT: Yes, my question is you took that seriously.
MR SYMCOX: I don't know how seriously. When I think back now, that it was. We'd already rejected it out of hand, and then more of saying, 'Well, why don't you tell whoever it maybe that - let's string them along, you know, and see how much there is.'
COMMISSIONER: Mr Symcox, I'm again interested not so much - although I am interested in that too, how it was received by yourself and the others, I'm interested to know from you whether you took it to have been seriously made, the extra hundred grand.
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR GAUNTLETT: So critically, Mr Symcox, this was a continuation of a serious procedure. The anti was being upped, if may use the colloquialism by a whole $100 000.
MR SYMCOX: It was, but the meeting had broken up, so sitting in the room, the next sequel was exactly as you said. Although, when Hansie made the call again, and put down the phone, yes, we did take it as, 'Well, there's another 100 000.'
COMMISSIONER: The call made in your presence, in the room?
MR SYMCOX: Yes, it was. But we didn't all stop talking and listen to Hansie talking, you know.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now I understand it to be indicated by others, Mr Symcox, that in fact there'd been a prelude to the first meeting. That there had been an approach prior to the first meeting that you've described, the one which Woolmer was not at. And particularly on the flight to Bombay. Do you know anything about that? Did you receive some sort of initial approach from Cronje or from anybody else on the flight to Bombay? It would have been the day before this, I think.
MR SYMCOX: I can't remember, and I can't even remember how many days before we got into Bombay. But I can't recall that, else I would have - and I would have by now remembered about it. There's been enough time to do it.
MR GAUNTLETT: Now, Mr Symcox, turning - almost turning from that matter. May I just ask you in conclusion, as you look back on it, are you surprised as to how events unfolded in the one meeting and the after meeting, on which you've testified, if you look back does it occur to you now that it's strange that it should have happened? Strange that Management shouldn't have been involved in any way, and strange that there wasn't an immediate reaction actually from all of you, not just 3 or 4, but, 'This is dishonest and we shouldn't do it.' Do you have any sort of retrospective thought like that?
MR SYMCOX: Ja, when I look back now, and you know, we've played now 7 years. Well, I had, and after close on 100 games, you look back now and you say, 'Hey, well maybe - maybe we should have been stronger in what we were doing then.' But at the time, we were young and finding our way. And maybe we should have got out the room and walked up and said, 'This is unacceptable. Do this and do this', but we didn't.
COMMISSIONER: May I just ask you if you're able to do so, to give me some indication of the length of time that this meeting took? I'm talking about the meeting, not the subsequent gathering.
MR SYMCOX: If it took a half-an-hour it would have been long.
COMMISSIONER: And Andrew Hudson and the other two gentlemen that you mentioned, Mr Crookes and Mr Cullinan, Andrew Hudson in particular, did he come straight out up front, sort of, with an immediate response to the offer, and say, 'Look, I'm not interested it's - '?
MR SYMCOX: Yes. No, he definitely did.
COMMISSIONER: And then the other two supported him immediately thereafter. Is that so?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
COMMISSIONER: So, I'm not tying you down to time estimates, but it strikes me from what you say, as if there must still then have been a fair amount of discussion as to whether or not to accept the offer. Is that right?
MR SYMCOX: Not really. When I say, half-an-hour, let's say it was 20 minutes. But you know, when you get into a meeting and you end up sitting down and you have a chat and - it didn't seem a long meeting. In my mind it doesn't seem a long meeting.
COMMISSIONER: Yes, Mr Gauntlett.
MR GAUNTLETT: Mr Symcox, after those events did it occur to you later that it was funny that Woolmer hadn't been invited to that meeting, and that perhaps Woolmer should be apprised of this, or perhaps even Dr Bacher himself?
MR SYMCOX: No, certainly now looking back it does seem - it does seem wrong. But on that tour Bob Woolmer wasn't in the room, and for whatever reason, and probably a good reason, because he wasn't part of the playing set up. So I look back now, it was strange, but he definitely wasn't in that meeting.
MR GAUNTLETT: That you've already testified about. I'm asking you whether afterwards it wasn't thought, 'We'd better tell them about it.' Did you not think that?
MR SYMCOX: Well, that wasn't for me to do, you know, I was just part of the - I didn't in any way think, 'Well, I'm going to walk out here and go and tell Bob Woolmer we just had a meeting and he wasn't there and this has happened.' It didn't occur to me like that.
MR GAUNTLETT: Or at any time thereafter?
MR SYMCOX: It was much - it was quite talked about. It wasn't as if it was a State secret in that room, and nobody would talk about it. People talked about.
MR GAUNTLETT: No, Mr Symcox. That's not the point. Did it thereafter occur to you to disclose it to Woolmer or Bacher or to anybody else other then ...(intervention)
MR SYMCOX: No, it didn't.
MR GAUNTLETT: ...other then those who had been invited to that room?
MR SYMCOX: No, it didn't.
MR GAUNTLETT: Finally, Mr Symcox, you referred to another incident when Cronje asked you about throwing a game against Pakistan, and you indicated that your advise was not to worry about it. Could you just help? Can you remember what the proposal was that was under discussion?
MR SYMCOX: I can't remember the exact figure. All he indicated to me was that he'd had an offer on behalf of the team to lose the match tomorrow night against Pakistan in Cape Town, and should he approach the team or what do I think. And I said I didn't think so.
MR GAUNTLETT: Could you just help us on the date of that?
MR SYMCOX: I don't know the exact date off the top of my head, but I remember it being the Mandela Trophy game against Pakistan in Cape Town at Newlands. And the final followed at the Wanderers.
COMMISSIONER: What was the result? Can you remember?
MR SYMCOX: Yes. No, we beat Pakistan quite handsomely.
MR GAUNTLETT: Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR GAUNTLETT
COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr Gauntlett. Mr Gishen?
MR GISHEN: I have no questions, thank you.
COMMISSIONER: May I just, before I ask MR DICKERSON to question you, Mr Symcox. You've got time constraints, have you? What's your position?
MR SYMCOX: I leave to Sri Lanka over the weekend to commentate for 2 months, and I'm back on the 16th of August, and then - but I have ...(intervention)
COMMISSIONER: You probably want to get home.
MR SYMCOX: Yes, and I need to pack and get ready to go.
COMMISSIONER: We'll see how we go, and if necessary and it only involves a short extension of the court hours - the Inquiry's hours for today, I'm happy to sit, to conclude Mr Symcox's evidence if we possibly can. Carry on MR DICKERSON.
MR DICKERSON: Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER. Mr Symcox, to start with the last answer you gave, the proposal that was conveyed to you regarding the match against Pakistan in Cape Town, you indicated that you can't recall the exact date. I understand from Mr Cronje that he recalls that incident and by his recollection, it took place in 1994. Do you accept that that could be so?
MR SYMCOX: Well, when was the Mandela Trophy played? That game in Cape Town?
MR DICKERSON: I understand from him that that was in 1994.
MR SYMCOX: I can recollect it is the game that we played Pakistan in Cape Town. If it was - when it was.
MR DICKERSON: Do you think you could be mistaken in that regard?
MR SYMCOX: Well, as I've said, the date - all I'm saying to you it was the Mandela Trophy match against Pakistan in Cape Town.
MR DICKERSON: Then back to the proposal that was put in India. You've said that you yourself didn't report the matter to Mr Woolmer or to Management. Are you aware that it was in fact reported to Mr Woolmer?
MR SYMCOX: No, I'm not.
MR DICKERSON: Are you aware that it was in fact reported to Mr Goolam Rajah, the Manager?
MR SYMCOX: No, I'm not.
MR DICKERSON: Upon the return to South Africa, was there any inquiry or question directed to you, or as far as you are aware, other members of the team by the United Cricket Board or any other officials?
MR SYMCOX: Wasn't directed - no question was directed to me, and I'm not aware of the other players.
MR DICKERSON: As far as the question of Captaincy is concerned, you've indicated that there are decisions that you don't agree with. That was the case even when you were in the team, there were regular disagreements. Not necessarily hostile, there were regular disagreements about, for example, field placings. Is that correct?
MR SYMCOX: Yes.
MR DICKERSON: And on occasion those disagreements were resolved through the intercession of Bob Woolmer, who would sit down with you and Hansie Cronje and try and mediate to sort out the differences. Is that correct?
MR SYMCOX: No.
MR DICKERSON: Oh. I understand from Mr Woolmer that that was the case.
MR SYMCOX: Well, Bob Woolmer's not here to answer that, but Bob Woolmer - not that I can recall, was the mediator between Hansie Cronje and I.
MR DICKERSON: The point that I'm making ...(intervention)
COMMISSIONER: Mr Symcox, if I may just interrupt you. These differences of opinion, did they relate to times when you were bowling, and you wanted a particular field placing and the Captain wanted another one?
MR SYMCOX: I take it that's what you're referring to. If I was on the field and I wanted to be mid-wicket and Hansie didn't want a mid-wicket.
MR DICKERSON: Yes.
MR SYMCOX: And the Bob Woolmer would intervene?
MR DICKERSON: No, these were on broader lines about field placings when you were bowling. You had fairly firm views, Hansie Cronje had different views, and on occasion Bob Woolmer would intercede and try and talk to you and talk to Hansie and resolve the dispute.
MR SYMCOX: Not that I can recall.
MR DICKERSON: The point that I'm really making, and perhaps we can get to it in a more direct way, is that in any cricket team there are on-going differences of opinion about how things should be done. At the end of the day, the assessment of a Captain, ultimately, is his record. And I'd like to ask you this question, in view of Hansie Cronje's record as a Captain, how would you described his Captaincy?
MR SYMCOX: Hansie Cronje was the best Captain South Africa has had, in my opinion. His record speaks for itself and he lead us in a very, very tough time, through a couple of years, in tough circumstances, with a young team after Kepler had left us. And he performed magnificently for us over a couple of years. So Hansie Cronje's ability of Captaining a team is definitely not in question, as far as I'm concerned.
MR DICKERSON: I have no further questions, Mr COMMISSIONER.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR DICKERSON
COMMISSIONER: Mr Fitzgerald, anything in reply?
MR FITZGERALD: I have no re-examination.
MS BATOHI: Nothing, Mr COMMISSIONER.
COMMISSIONER: Mr Symcox, thank you very much for your assistance. You've been very useful to the Commission, I have no doubt. Thank you.
MR SYMCOX: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER: ...(indistinct) see us starting another witness in those circumstances, so we'll adjourn this sitting and we'll continue tomorrow morning at 9:30.
COMMISSION ADJOURNS UNTIL 08-06-00 AT 9:30