Friday, 3 September 2010

Bob Woolmer remembered: Pakistan Fixes Things Good: The Two Men Who May Have Stopped Them Both Died

Since writing this blog, this has appeared, from Clive Rice, the former South Africa captain:

BOB WOOLMER died on March 18, 2007 in Kingston, Jamaica, hours after Pakistan’s shock World Cup defeat against Ireland.

Initial reports suggested the India-born Pakistan coach was strangled, with bruising on the neck. And poisoned, according to toxicology reports. Fit for his age and still considered one of the best coaches in the world at 58, we are now expected to believe the former England Test batsman died of a heart attack, though the Jamaican jury at his inquest bravely left us with an “open verdict” on his sudden death.

At the time, I was told Woolmer was killed because he hadn’t “informed the correct authorities” that Pakistan were going to lose to the minnows and crash out of the World Cup. Apparently people in very high places would have made a killing on the Asian betting markets if only the coach had warned them a major upset was imminent.

Of course, Woolmer – coach of South Africa when that other infamous match-fixer Hansie Cronje was their crooked captain – could not have known. It was a game of cricket. You don’t know the result until the last ball is bowled, the final wicket falls. That’s sport.

But, as we now know only too well thanks to last Sunday’s News of the World revelations, Pakistan may be a slightly more predictable sporting team than the average. They know when they’re going to bowl no-balls. Three times it happened in the fourth and final Test against England at Lord’s last week. And cricketing agent and Carshalton Athletic FC owner Mazhar Majeed knew exactly when each no ball was going to happen. Allegedly.

And, because he knew they were going to lose the second Test in Australia over Christmas, “fixer” Majeed told the News of the World he earned around £830,000 having a Merry Christmas in Sydney. Allegedly.

Quite a Test that one. At the start of the final day, Australia led by 49 runs with two second innings wickets remaining. Somehow, amid a plethora of dropped catches, those two wickets added 124 runs. Pakistan, chasing 176, were skittled for 139. Fact.

So yes, Bob, apparently you should have known you were going to lose that crucial World Cup clash against Ireland at Sabina Park in 2007. But you said nothing. Either that, or the rant in the bus afterwards (he was reported to be “very, very angry” by the two Jaimaican policemen on board) came from a coach so angered by Cronje’s betrayal of his cricketing beliefs that he couldn’t believe he was being turned over again. New team, same old story.

I know that one of the Pakistani players in 2007 (I daren’t name him, big bloke) booked out his room on the 12th floor of the team hotel after the defeat against Ireland. He booked back in later as “Mr Newman” and took a room on the fifth floor of the same Pegasus Hotel, adjacent to Woolmer.

This isn’t supposition. It’s fact. See Two Pakistan players were questioned by police. One had “facial cuts”.

Woolmer was rumoured to be writing a book at the time. Some say it was a biography, others suggest he was about to blow the lid off match fixing. It had been started some weeks before the 2007 World Cup.

Obviously, it was never published. Shouting was heard from his room. The next morning he was found dead. After a brief examination the Jamaican police launched a murder investigation. Then Scotland Yard and others became involved. Strangulation was no longer mentioned. The substance in his blood was just “weed killer from the pitch”.

Despite the fact the post mortem still says he was strangled (Jamiaican pathologist Ere Seshaiah defiantly stuck to his guns, despite “advice” from various quarters), we are supposed to believe he died of natural courses.

Even his wife Gill, at her home in South Africa, insisted this morning: “We were given all the evidence, shown the photographs, and based on what we were told by the police in Jamaica, it was not murder.”

Strange that. Hansie Cronje died on a mountainside on June 1, 2002 when the unscheduled private jet he was travelling in from Johannesburg to George went down. And that wasn’t murder either. Pilot error apparently. Though I heard once his body was found a long way from the crash site. An inquest four years later blamed the two pilots, who also died. Investigation closed.

Two people who could have blown Pakistani match-fixing apart. Both fighting fit one minute, dead the next. Neither of them murdered. Incredible luck, these match fixers are having. What a movie that script would make. If only it was quite so unbelievable.

Given how high this goes in Pakistani government circles, I’ve got this picture of a CIA operative in shades growling: “Cricket? What the hell’s cricket? We can’t bring the Pakistan government down over cricket. We’ve got Osama Bin Laden to worry about.”

Or maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist.

1 comment:

  1. No comments??! That's yet more proof!