Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bob Woolmer Murdered?

Cricket takes a back seat at its showpiece event

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This World Cup has been mired in more controversies than any of the previous ones. What with controversies and scandals erupting almost daily now, the world cup is more in the news for off the field events than on it. It will be some time before we forget this world cup, that’s for sure.

The controversies were kick started by Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting going at each other over the Australia’s alleged bad behavior on the field. Things took a nasty turn when Gavaskar dragged the let David Hookes’s name into the whole affair. This further fuelled the controversy and Gavaskar was forced to apologize subsequently for doing it. Boy if we thought that was the end of the controversies at this world cup then were we wrong!!!

Flintoff and a few of his teammates then decided to provide some more spice to the world cup. They were caught by a few of the Britan’s notorious tabloids as having been involved in a late night party at a local bar in the Caribbean on a match day. Flintoff exacerbated the situation by choosing to go on a boating in the rough seas at night and in a completely drunken state. He had to be fished out of the water alter on when his boat capsized. He paid the price for this recklessness by sitting out the next match and more importantly by losing his vice-captaincy of the team.

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There was further shock, thankfully on the field this time, when Ireland and Bangladesh pulled off massive upsets to beat India and Pakistan respectively. The Indians fans reaction to the defeat was as predictably over the top as when they win. Cricketers’ homes were vandalized, effigies burned and generally branded as shameful to the nation. Egged on by a manipulative media and the outrage were at a fever pitch.

Then the biggest controversy exploded which overshadowed everything that has and will happen at this world cup. Barring a calamitous event occurring right on the day of the final, Bob Woolmer’s sudden demise would be the most shocking event cricket world would see for some time. The Pakistani coach was found in a pool of his own vomit. He was also bleeding from the nose and had died. It was generally believed that the stress of the defeat had taken a toll on the South African and that he had succumbed to either a heart attack or a hemorrhage arising out of the stress he was under.

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But speculation refused to die down after his death and now 3 days after his death the Jamaican police has announced that his death was suspicious under the circumstances. Right now it is difficult to differentiate the fact from the fiction, as unconfirmed news beamed 24 hours by the ever vigilant media is fuelling several conspiracy theories. There are reports, that claim to have come from sources with the Jamaican police, that Bob Woolmer was murdered. There are reports which suggest that there are marks around his neck. Some say that his body, when found, was blue in color suggesting that he was poisoned. Some reports claim that the police have found fingerprints in his room and traces of poison too. While others say he was poisoned in his food.

The motive too has been subject to serious speculation. Some claim that he could have been murdered because of a book he was writing, where it was widely believed he would throw more light into the match fixing scandal that had erupted during his tenure as coach of the South African team. They point to the fact that Hansi Cronje, then captain of South Africa and an accused in that case, had also died suddenly in an air crash just like Woolmer had died suddenly now. People like Sarfaras Nawas have publicly said on the day he died itself that the bookmakers are involved in the Woolmer’s death. There are even others who feel that he was killed by angry Pakistani fans upset over their team’s sudden exit from the competition.

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What is known for a fact so far is that the autopsy has been inconclusive as to the cause of death. The police have announced that the reports of further tests like toxicology and histology are being awaited before any further concrete assumptions can be drawn. Till then all three possibilities are open; murder, suicide and drug overdose.

By this time tomorrow we might have a better idea on how Bob Woolmer passed away. Whatever it may be this could become the biggest thing to have shaken the cricketing world since the match fixing scandal broke out in the early part of this millennium. If Woolmer’s death turns out to be a murder it will be some time before the focus shifts back to the activities on the field.

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