As is widely known, the British cricket coach for Pakistan, Bob Woolmer, was found naked, strangled in his hotel room in Jamaica a few days ago, the morning after Pakistan's defeat against Ireland in the cricket World Cup. The toxicology results are yet to be publicised, so it is not known whether he was poisoned as well. There is an Agatha Christie murder mystery aura about the whole tragic event, with many puzzling questions unanswered: how come he was found naked? Why was there no sign of struggle? How come nothing was heard by the chap in the room next door? Was it someone Woolmer knew?
It is believed that Woolmer had knowledge about match-fixing that would go into a book he had nearly finished writing, that others wished were not made public. Ireland's historic victory over Pakistan is now cast in a new light. If match-fixing is the reason for the murder, both the bribed members of the Pakistan squad, and the criminal network behind the bribe will surely be exposed. There is already speculation that D-Company, the Indian mafia network run by Dawood Ibrahim from Dubai, maybe behind the hit. Suketu Mehta's book Maximum City has a detailed analysis of D-Company and several of the main players.
What is sure is that the genteel image of cricket has lost its pure white sheen forever. Just as the International Cricket Council's move to Dubai from Olde England a couple of years ago signalled a repositioning of the game in a global context, so too this sad event shows that as a sport played across the planet, cricket is no longer immune to global flows of money.
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