Friday, March 23, 2007

Bob Woolmer's murder. Betting mafia ?

The story of Bob Woolmer is getting stranger and stranger. Cricket has always been known as a gentleman's game, with good manners, not much of uncouth behaviour, and mostly well behaved cricketers epitomizing all that is good about cricket. Even the people in cricket who were seen as bad boys such as Ian Botham, Shane Warne, etc, were not seen as bad characters as such, but more with a streak of irresponsibility.
And then the first saga of match fixing came onto the scene. With its immense popularity in the sub-continent, and the presense of the Indian diaspora everywhere, betting on cricket achieved astronmical proportions, with the mafia also getting involved. Cricket match-fxing was first seen as something that was simply not possible, and people hinting at this were people who had no idea, and such a thing could possibly not happen in this gentleman's game. And then the police and other official investigation started finding links that could just not be coincidence, and famous cricketers started falling to the chorus of guilty.
Some of the most famous ones have been icons in their own right such as Hansie Cronje, Azharudding, and Jadeja.
But if you read about the figures of betting involved on major games and tournaments, the amount of money involved is around the total sales of some of the major companies in the Indian sub-continent. Such money and the presense of criminal elements raises the stakes immensly. With such money involved, every game that turns the other way or happens in a way that causes upsets is seen with suspicion, and every inning that terminates suddenly with a rash shot causes those hidden thoughts to rise. It is after all a lot of money, and after the fall of great cricketers in the past, it is no major effort to think about money having swayed decisions.
Bob Woolmers death is all the more suspicious. His body was found in suspicious
circumstances, just after a shock defeat of Pakistan at the hands of a rank upstart like Ireland that pushed Pakistan out of the tournament. His room had signs of vomit and blood, and after his autopsy and further forensic investigations, his death has now been ruled as a homicide. In addition, the Pakistani cricket side has been asked to stay back for a bit more time, and there are reports that given that he was the coach of the Pakistani side, the team members have been questioned independently and may be asked to provide DNA samples. Read this news article:

The Pakistan team's stay in the West Indies has been extended by a day or two for reasons not known yet, sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board said on Friday.
They were scheduled to take a flight out from Jamaica on Saturday but now this might be delayed to Monday or Tuesday," a well-informed source said.
He, however, said he could not say for certain if the delay was due to the ongoing
investigations into the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday.
"I don't know if it has to do with the investigations but their departure is going to be delayed," the source said.

This investigation has now pushed the world cup into a lot of controversy, given that a murder investigation, with suspicions of the betting mafia being involved will overshadow every other event of the world cup, and people will find it hard to forget this horrible incident. One can only hope that this murder is investigated thoroughly so that all the hidden angles are also brought out.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 12:06 PM