Friday, March 23, 2007

Bob Woolmer


They can't continue when this has happened. The spirit of the Cup is gone and nobody is safe. I feel that the forces at play behind the scenes will stop at nothing to get the results they want - I shudder to think what will happen if India get knocked out by Sri Lanka today.” - comment on the Times web site.

The Woolmer family's very human tragedy is overshadowed by allegations that the darker side of betting and bookmaking may, in some way, be involved in his death.

This is a tragedy for the game.

This is not the first time a betting scandal has been involved in the death of a cricketer. Remember Hansie Cronje? Bob Woolmer was the South Africa coach at the time. So, although Woolmer's death has not been attributed to anyone as yet, the speculation is now focusing on the shady betting syndicates on the sub-continent. Why? Because these sorts will, apparently, stop at nothing to make money by fixing cricket matches.

It's easy to point the finger at the Pakistani players, officials, supporters or bookmakers. It is possible that they were involved in some way. The track record of the cricketers is not impressive. We have just “recovered” from drug allegations regarding two of the best Pakistani bowlers, Shoab Aktar and Mohammad Asif. They were left out of the team, perhaps on the coach's recommendation.

It's not a great leap to imagine that some people didn't agree with that decision. Would such people be motivated to either take revenge on Woolmer, or, even more shockingly, need to make sure he didn't speak out about this issue. Very likely.

It is ungracious in the extreme to suggest that Bob Woolmer had any hand in cricketing sharp practices. Nevertheless, there must be a thorough investigation to ensure that the public will continue to remember him as a fine cricketer, an excellent coach and a very good human being.

If the opposite is the case, it would truly be a tragedy for the World Cup in particular and cricket in general.

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