Former Proteas fast bowler Allan Donald has paid his heartfelt respects to Ewie Cronje, father of the late Hansie, after he lost his battle with cancer on Monday at the age of 80.
Tributes have poured in for Cronje Sr, who made a seismic difference in shaping of cricket in the Free State province as president of their union between 1983 and 1990.
In an interview with Sport24, Donald, who played his domestic cricket in Bloemfontein, emphasised the magnitude of Cronje’s influence on himself and in developing the game in the province.
‘I don’t think people quite realise what a big influence he had on my life and on countless others’. He was quintessentially the “Mr Cricket” of the Free State, but that wouldn’t do his legacy justice. He was the best sports administrator in the history of the province. He was simply tireless and did so much for varsity and school sports too,’ Donald said.
Ultimately it was Cronje’s dynamics that helped Free State become a powerhouse in South Africa’s domestic system, which yielded great success for Donald as part of the team.
‘I have a lot to thank him for in terms of my playing career. He was the guy that imbued a talented group of local cricketers to believe that Free State could bark with the top dogs.
‘That famous Benson & Hedges Cup final we won as underdogs in 1988-89 against Western Province was a fitting reward for his efforts. He got men like Allan Lamb, Sylvester Clarke and Omar Henry to come and play in Bloemfontein. Mike Procter was our coach.
‘Ewie believed that if we were going to become better, we needed to learn from the best. But he balanced that with his humanity. He took tremendous care of every person that crossed his path,’ Donald concluded.