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In the wake of Woolmer, cricket must look at itself

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Mihir Bose | 08:38 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Tuesday's announcement by the Jamaican police that the Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer was not murdered after all is a wholly unsatisfactory end to an investigation gone badly wrong.

But the problems have been compounded by the fact that cricket is haunted by the spectre of corruption and match fixing.

The Jamaican police have now said that Woolmer died of natural causes on 18 March, and they may try to defend themselves by blaming the pathologist who initially diagnosed murder - and also, to a certain extent, by placing some of the blame on the media.

But much of the media interest was fuelled by the openness of the Jamaican police, their willingness to talk to the media and their confident assertion that it was murder.

Their initial announcement of an inconclusive cause of death began the speculation, which then became uncontrollable once they announced with such certainty that this was murder by strangulation.

shieldsap200.jpg
Deputy commissioner Mark Shields (right) made a point of making himself available for interview. He says that he was advised to do so but his constant appearances only served to fan the flames.

That the review of the case by Scotland Yard was leaked to the media was symptomatic of how this whole investigation took place in the public eye.

Tuesday’s announcement by the Jamaicans was a humiliating and very public climb-down - in keeping with what has gone before in this sorry saga.

One of the issues highlighted by this tragic case is that when teams from the Indian subcontinent lose the defeat is rarely taken as one of those things in sport. Instead, there are always allegations of match fixing.

This is all the more so if the defeat is unexpected. In this case, Woolmer (below) died the day following Pakistan's defeat by Ireland in the World Cup, a result nobody anticipated or could wholly explain.

Soon after the defeat stories of match fixing began to emerge from the subcontinent. Much has since been made of the fact that the media stoked these stories. But the fact is that the allegations are often made by former cricketers - in this case Sarfraz Nawaz, the former Pakistani cricketer who many consider the finest fast bowler the country has produced.

woolmer200.jpg
That the media gave prominence to his theories is understandable given that they were told it was a murder and nobody could say who would want to murder Woolmer. Here again the Jamaican police did nothing to discourage theories that match fixers may be involved.

My abiding memory of the capital Kingston in the immediate aftermath of the announcement by the Jamaican police is seeing Mark Shields in earnest huddles with Jeff Rees, head of the anti-corruption unit of the International Cricket Council, discussing possible match-fixing angles.

Indeed Shields told the press that match-fixing could not be ruled out as a motive. Just as he also said that he had evidence, which he could not disclose, that it was murder.

The Jamaican police announcements fuelled rumours that match fixers were involved and this produced a cocktail of speculation. The Pakistan cricket team soon became part of this cocktail.

It is understandable that Imran Khan, a former Pakistan captain, should ask for the team and the Pakistan Cricket Board to take some legal action against someone, anyone. But who can they sue in such a case?

There is a more compelling case for the Pakistani cricket authorities - and indeed cricket authorities - in general to look into why the game still attracts allegations of match fixing.

Comments

  1. At 10:23 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Navid wrote:

    The media should also apologise, in the wake of the press conference which confirmed Mr Woolmers so called murder all these theories were banded about and it made front page news, what happened to innocent before being proven guilty, that went right out of the window. Some papers were even saying the players were involved. Indirect headlines such as scratch marks on Mushatqs face fanning the flames. The thing that disgust me most is that some of these papers that had 2 to 3 pages dedicated to this sensationalism reported the news of yesterdays press conference on less than half a page with no apology to scaremongering. The panorama programme is another example of going for the sensational story rather than looking at the facts.

  2. At 10:43 AM on 13 Jun 2007, simon w wrote:

    Typical that Imran Khan and fellow Pakistan cricketers are seeking to blame and sue over the Bob Woolmer investigation. The authorities may have got it wrong and handled the case badly, but the fact of the matter is is that corruption in cricket has gone on and does go on. As a result of this and an incredibly shocking defeat for Pakistan against Ireland it is inevitable that suspicions would be raised. If Imran and co. are looking for somebody to blame they should be pointing the finger at every corrupt member of the cricketing fraternity for putting everyone under suspicion.

  3. At 10:44 AM on 13 Jun 2007, Amer Hussain wrote:

    Surely Mr Bose, your article for cricket to examine its position is wrong.

    In my opinion journalists like yourself and countless others in your proffession and in the media need to look at themselves.

    Would you be so kind as to count the number of articles that have been written since Mr Woolmers untimely natural death that have been nothing short of sheer sensationalism. It is what sells newspapers, makes people read website articles, keeps us tuned to the news on TV and radio. To suggest that because the police guy said it was murder, and was willing to be interviewed and that Sarfraz Nawaz suggested match fixing make it OK to be so sensationalist is utter nonsense.

    Lets be honest, this story was made for the media. After all, you get to camp out in the Carribean on a fat expense account waiting for soundbites. You all must have had the match fixing theories already penned, just didn't have the guts to publish them until you could quote them have coming from someone elses mouth.

    Tony Blair said yesterday that the press / media in the UK are out of control and care about nothing but the story. I agree with his comments. The media have to be censured in instances where there is an on going police investigation. One day its poison, the next its match fixing, the next its the Pakistan cricket team....even the BBC are culprits and its sad - I feel for the Woolmer family and as you journalists never will, I would like to apologise to the family for the way the media have treated this whole sorry mess.

  4. At 11:28 AM on 13 Jun 2007, SS wrote:

    Firstly, can I just say that the game of blame that Mr Bose is playing is utterly pointless. The press love a conspiracy theory, and if they are not sure there is one they'll speculate about it anyawy. (The example of Sarfraz Nawaz is irrelevant as the press will court any rent a quote to back a story, and the more contreversial the better.) Mihir Bose seems to be one of the more sensationalist journailsts around, which is a shame for the BBC.

    Secondly, the reason the press always looks to match fixing when Asian teams loose unexpectedly is due to easy stories and lazy journailsm. Is there corruption in sport? Almost defiantely. Can it be proved? Usually no. Does that mean will not use it to attract readers/viewers? Hell no.

  5. At 11:28 AM on 13 Jun 2007, waseem wrote:

    I think this whole saga is created by Mr Mark Shield to get cheap publicity from the media.
    He was doing press confrences/ interviews without any clue and was doing his best to enhaunce different murder theories.
    Waseem

  6. At 11:56 AM on 13 Jun 2007, OldHarry wrote:

    I'd also like to appologise to the Woolmer family on behalf of my countries media for their sickening behaviour. In what kind of society is hounding a grieving family, printing wild allegations and reporting on ongoing police investigations acceptable?

    I don't expect any member of the media to appologise. I expect them to blame Cricket or any other scapegoat they can find.

  7. At 12:43 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Ashfaq Shah wrote:

    I agree with Mr. Amer Hussain's comment. Mr. Bose, I am afraid if you think Sarfraz Nawaz's statements can justify media's role in this saga, you are living in a fool's world. Sarfraz Nawaz has a habbit of making sensational statements and whole world knows it. Apart from being a fine cricketer he hasn't done anything else to demand respect. Not just british media, but most of the indian news channels are also to be blamed for adding spice to this sorry tale. I am sure media projection in India of this case would have been opposite had late Bob Woolmer been coach of India. Jamaican Police would have been trashed for suspecting players rather than making a hero out of Mr. Shields.

  8. At 12:50 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Pete W wrote:

    Here here Amer. An excellent response. You've said everything that I could've, but far more eloquently.

    I feel really sorry for the Woolmer family and the Pakistani players who have been caught up in the mess which was pretty much created by the media.

  9. At 01:10 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Graeme Johnson wrote:

    Dear Mr Hussain,
    Please remember that the 'media' especially the BBC did not kill Mr Woolmer. Natural causes did. As a freelance writer of course I have a bias towards the 'media', but truth will out...And YES as a member of this so-called 'dreadful tribe' my heart does gout to the Woolmer family.

  10. At 01:16 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Eric Carter wrote:

    Well said Amer Hussain!

    The sensationalist way that Bob Woolmer's death has been reported has been totally inappropriate, although not quite as bad as the disgusting media frenzy surrounding the disappearance of Madeline McCann!

    Of course the BBC tries to portray itself as being superior to the "tabloid press" and looks down on them as sensationalist. In that case can someone explain why, when reporting the fire on the Cutty Sark, did the BBC News website have an attention-grabbing headline that said that the ship had been "destroyed" but the article to which it related stated that only a part of it had been damaged?

  11. At 01:27 PM on 13 Jun 2007, paul duerden wrote:

    Steady on Mr. Hussain, it is a journalists duty to report a situation as he or she sees it. The murder theory did not come from journalists but from the Jamaican police after a pathologists report. I think everyone has been baffled by the developments in this case all along. When we then find that they are saying he wasn't murdered at all, it came as something of a bombshell. A reasoned and free debate on this finding is the correct and proper course.

    As for Mr. Blairs assertion that the press are out of control the phrase "he would say that wouldn't he?" comes to mind.

  12. At 01:33 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Liam Rooney wrote:

    Every time I see Mihir Bose talking or writing about this he mentions the defeat of Pakistan by Ireland and the possibility of match-fixing.
    Sorry Mr Bose but did you watch that match ? It was obvious to anyone that did that Pakistan were desperate to win that match. Why would any team sacifice a World Cup like that ? It is incredible.
    Why is it incomprehensible that an upset can happen in cricket, like any other sport ? Why would anybody watch if it is as predicatble as Mr Bose suggests
    I think Mr Bose was one the first to jump on this match-fixing wagon and should be disciplined for his irresponsible and insensitive behaviour

  13. At 01:34 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Paul wrote:

    The police cannot win either way can they? In the recent Portugese abduction case, the English press went mad at the lack of openness and information, yet here you criticise when the police try to be as open as possible. If the investigation had been carried out behind closed doors I imagine you would be sitting here now, writing a blog asking why it had taken so long and why there was no information etc, etc, etc.

    Perhaps you should concentrate more on how you interpret and portray the comments? You seem to have a shaded recollection of events. As I recall, Mark Shields never ruled out any avenue of investigation and when pressed about match fixing by those journalists smelling a witch hunt, he always confirmed that no motives were being ruled out until evidence was forthcoming and match-fixing was just one of the potential avenues of investigation.

    The fact that the press latched on to this one particular potential motive and ignored any other is where the problems arose.

    Any police investigation follows dead ends and misdirected leads. It just so happens on this occasion the dead end was the result of a pretty fundamental error by a pathologist.

    If anyone is likely to be sued, it will be the press. The police acted professionally throughout. It is the press who misinterpreted the information, sensationalised and printed potentially damaging allegations.

  14. At 01:36 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Jonathan wrote:

    Is the Woolmer a cricket story?
    Maybe it's just a story of a crime that wasn't a crime.

  15. At 01:37 PM on 13 Jun 2007, David Kendall wrote:

    Yes, the Jamaican pathologist made a mistake, and yes Sarfraz Nawaz sounded off as usual, but this does NOT justify the treatment of this story and the treatment of the Pakistan team by the media in this country and elsewhere.

    As has been said over the last day or so, if it had been the Australia or Enlgand coach that had died, can anyone imagine the Australian or English teams being treated in such a way? Would they have had to endure the innuendo and suspicion meted out to the Pakistanis? Would the British media have hinted that the team captain was involved in the murder?

    The reporting of this event has been racist. Why can't anyone in the media stand up and admit this??

  16. At 01:43 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Bob, Stafford wrote:

    I sent the previous e-mail and did not realise it was not recoverable!
    Please attribute them to me please,
    Thanks

  17. At 01:51 PM on 13 Jun 2007, jordan clough wrote:

    I think that the point made in the article about the openness of the Jamaican Police, and their apparent absolute certainty that it was murder, discounts the idea of the media being wholly responsible for the circus that erupted around this sad incident. Mark Shields' further interaction with those involved with cricket's match-fixing investigators (investigators of match-fixing, sorry) and his assertion that there was evidence of murder that he could not disclose would leave the media with only one option: speculation. This speculation could not have had a large effect on the case, or at least it shouldn't have, and what would you rather they did? Not report on the facts (sic) and information that they had been given? This was a huge story where a high-profile figure died in the middle of a high-profile tournament and murder was alleged. How could the media ignore this? Sensationalism and shock-tactics and supposedly silly speculation aside, one could hardly blame the media alone for the almighty cock-up made of the investigation and aftermath of the sad death of a good man.

  18. At 01:55 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Pathologist, UK wrote:

    On the 28th March 2007 I posted this comment on a Doctors' website.

    "Is it just me or does anyone else think this could just be a case of a middle aged man who had a stressful day at work and had a sudden cardiac event?"

    I think a lot of UK pathologists agreed with me.

    The medical history and the circumstances surrounding this death were key to understanding what happened. To blame the pathologist alone is very short-sighted.

  19. At 02:19 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Robert wrote:

    Mr Bose is absolutely right to say that cricket must look at why allegations of match fixing keep on occurring. Until the authorities can persuade the public that they have proper control over misconduct in this regard the credibility of the sport will be compromised and scepticism will greet every "surprise" result, however innocently obtained it may have been.

    However Mr Bose is quite wrong to criticise the Jamaican police for publicising the fact that they were investigating a murder. What else were they meant to do? THey had been advised, wrongly it now appears, by a pathologist that there was evidence of strangulation. They could not have ignored that advice. Any investigation would be bound to require forensic examination of the hotel, and interviewing possible witnesses,including the players, and, quite possibly, a public appeal for witnesses. It was inevitable that such steps would lead to publicity of the reason for the investigation.

    Mr Bose is surely doing what the press always do - looking for the negative news story not the positive one. Isn't it in fact good news that what was suspected to have been a murder was in fact a natural one? Even for Mr Woolmer's family, to whom much sympathy is owed, it must make it easier to come to terms with their loss to know this. Is it not also good news for cricket that its reputation has not been besmirched by an horrendouse crime? Unfortunately as always good news does not sell newspapers, or apparently even space in a BBC blog.

  20. At 02:44 PM on 13 Jun 2007, jo wrote:

    well put my friend, very well put...

  21. At 02:58 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Stephen Downer wrote:

    Dear Mr. Bose,
    I agree with your comments.
    Yours sincerely,
    Stephen Downer,
    Mexico City

  22. At 03:09 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Jeremy Yeomans wrote:

    Well said Mr Hussain concerning the media intrusion!

    Inadvertantly Mr Blair may have made a good point. Every media agency now has a huge number of employees on their sports desk, all offering 'expert opinion' (personally speaking that smartalec twerp on radio 5's breakfast programme really grates when we are forced to hear his 'opinion') like I care....

    I didn't notice Sky or BBC news not showing a hastily convened press conference with the Police officer in Jamaica.

    This was a huge tragedy for the Woolmer family first & foremost. All this idle speculation must have been hell on earth for the family.

    Whilst I understand where Mr Bose is coming from & his integrity is higher than most, it still seems a little rich for the media to deflect all the blame, when as Mr Hussain has so ably pointed out there might be an expense account on an exotic island at stake.......

    On a wider issue would the BBC/sky et al have posted so many top staff to oversee the McCann tragedy had it been in Grimsby for example rather than Portugal as summer was approaching?

  23. At 03:10 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Rob Whittle wrote:

    I agree with Mr Hussain

    The Media are largely to blame for magnifying it to international level. It was the media that failed to differentiate between theory/ line of enquiry, and actual factual truth and probability. The press painted it in a black and white situation, for public belief and circulation.

    Investigations always change direction dependent on many things. Whilst the pathologist initially is at fault, in a less than clear cut death, the media pressuring the police for leads ruined the world cup.

    Imram is typically wants a culprit, sees some sort of national insult and wants compensation. Wholely unrealsistic. On that basis all aquitted defendents or suspects would be looking for compensation. High profile sports life has risks, the smooth with the rough. Its not all cricket!

    Insaman u Haq has exactly the correct position, and comes out of this Woolmer saga with huge international respect. He at least remembers the murdered man before his own perceived insult and injustice.

    Mark Shields was damned if he did, damned if he didn't with the clammering media. Too secret v too open. The media were clammering for instant results, definate lead and high level crime, and possible trial by media.

  24. At 03:18 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Drachir Nosnikta wrote:

    Mr. Hussain has taken a rather kindergarten view of this blog. As far as i know, Mr. Bose never said it was ok, just understandable, simply because that that is the nature of journalism. Are you then suggesting that because of this, the media should just choose not to report the story? BEcause regardless of what happens, the public will always speculate. I agree that Mr. Shields may not have taken the best action in this case, but if somethings is put to the press and media, then they have a social duty to present it to the people for the people's analysis.

  25. At 03:29 PM on 13 Jun 2007, zaheer wrote:

    Mr Bose, with due respect, since when was sarfraz nazaz the finest fast bowler to come from pakistan?! Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram would be the first names to come to mind..

  26. At 03:34 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Andrew wrote:

    "That the media gave prominence to his theories is understandable"

    Really? I thought you were the great investigative journalist. What you are saying is that you followed the lines of inquiry you were fed just like the press pack followed the stories Campbell and Blair fed them from 97-01. This actually becomes another story about a press pack who weren't brave enough to follow the story through instead of what it should have been, a reflection on the life of a good man.

    So, what your piece is saying is that the press pack are lazy and work off rumours, too interested in stories for their round the clock services and countless editors (have a look at the list of editors on the main BBC "blog" site, there must be over 80) to investigate. Too shallow to follow up outside of the official
    lines they are fed. Maybe that Blair bloke was right.

    Pretty pathetic. I hope we start to remember Bob Woolmer rather than turn this into a witchhunt of a different kind. But with so many "journalists" involved, I doubt it. Let's see if this is passed for approval on the "blog". Stand up to some criticism please or else this is merely vanity publishing, pure ego.

  27. At 04:01 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Andrew Black wrote:

    It is so sad but so typical of such an article that it is not until Amer Hussain's comment that regret and apology to the family is mentioned. They are the ones who have suffered and my sympathy is with them.

    It is disingenuous in the extreme for Mr Bose or any other journalist to point the finger of blame so squarely at the Jamaican authorities. I have no doubt that Mr Shields was acting in what he considered to be a responsible and honest manner. Had he not made himself available to the press he would have been lambasted. To suggest that this matter could have been conducted in any manner away from the public view is niaive at best.

  28. At 04:13 PM on 13 Jun 2007, jordan clough wrote:

    I think that the point made in the article about the openness of the Jamaican Police, and their apparent absolute certainty that it was murder, discounts the idea of the media being wholly responsible for the circus that erupted around this sad incident. Mark Shields' further interaction with those involved with cricket's match-fixing investigators (investigators of match-fixing, sorry) and his assertion that there was evidence of murder that he could not disclose would leave the media with only one option: speculation. This speculation could not have had a large effect on the case, or at least it shouldn't have, and what would you rather they did? Not report on the facts (sic) and information that they had been given? This was a huge story where a high-profile figure died in the middle of a high-profile tournament and murder was alleged. How could the media ignore this? Sensationalism and shock-tactics and silly speculation aside, one could hardly blame the media for the almighty mess made of the aftermath and investigation of the sad death of a good man.

  29. At 04:40 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Matthew wrote:

    I agree with one or two of these posts. It does, for example, seem unfair to criticise the Jamaican police when both the authorities and the media shared the same goal of releasing as much information, when it was fresh, as possible.
    I also agree with Paul, who pointed out that the media wanted MORE openness from the Portuguese police over the Madeleine McCann saga.
    However, as with the recent Guardian/Michael Vaughan row, it seems to be fair game now to attack the media for anything and everything, regardless of their rights or wrongs in a particular instance.
    For example, Navid, who asked "what happened to innocent until proven guilty?" and others who think the media could be sued for their actions.
    For what exactly?
    There is no issue of contempt of court as nobody was arrested or charged.
    There is also no threat of defamation as no individual was singled out as a suspect.
    The information about Pakistan cricketers being questioned came from the most reputable source possible - the police.
    As for the stories being sensationalist, yes, plenty were, but a) they were dealing with an enormous, ongoing story which commanded tremendous public interest and b) the suggestion that Bob Woolmer was murdered was far more than idle speculation, it was the official police line for several weeks.
    It seems astonishing that some people would prefer journalists to twiddle their thumbs at their desks until a coroner has issued his verdict months later, when the world has moved on to caring about which tiresome nonentity is about to booted out of the Big Brother house.

  30. At 04:57 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Kevin Hall wrote:

    Well, I for one never thought the murder theories made any sense, so I'm not at all surprised it turned out to be due to natural causes. If Bob Woolmer hadn't been Pakistan's coach there would be no hint of a match fixing connection and so little likelihood that the Jamaican police would see his death as a possible crime.

    Before exonerating the media, remember the initial "suspicious death" assumption is automatic until cause of death is established. The media seized on this and immediately started the murder speculation. Who knows how much this may have influenced the investigation?

    All the sporting media do is speculate on rumours these days. What happened to straightforward reporting of events?

    I feel very sorry for the Pakistan team for the way they were treated, but primarily my sympathy goes out to Bob Woolmer's wife and family who have been put through unnecessary pain as a result of police bungling.

  31. At 05:14 PM on 13 Jun 2007, H I K wrote:

    We can talk about this till the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is:
    Media sensationalised the story un-necessarily. They were biased big time against the Pakistani team. And generally, media here is out of control. We should also not forget P J Mir the media manager of Pak Cricket team who in every interview was trying to say it is still not a murder and it might be natural death (as sugggested by the pathalogist)but the whole media tried to hush his statements but concentrated on the statements by a man (Inzimam) who does not have the complete authority on English Language. And BTW why should not the Pakistan Cricket Board or the players not sue the Police or certain members of the media when its high time that media should have a taste of its own medicine.

  32. At 06:30 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Chris wrote:

    I agree with Mr. Bose. It is fact that match fixing was a part of world cricket in the late 1990's (all the big cricket teams encountered it at some point), so when a good team like Pakistan loses to Ireland in the World Cup, cricket fans get suspicious. I know I was. And then when the Pakistan coach dies soon afterwards, no-one knows what to think. I also believe the Jamaican police handled it badly and stoked the fire somewhat. The point is a lot of people wonder to what extent match fixing affects cricket today.

  33. At 07:01 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Mohamed (Breado) wrote:

    Why is the conclusion a "Wholly unsatisfactory" end? Is it because they did not find that there was match fixing and Pakistan was to blame? Would have been nice to pin it on a Pakistani,wouldn't it?

    Cricket has long been suffering from the subtle racism or as we say in the West Indies, eye pass by the media.
    The only reason so much coverage was given to Mark Shields was because of his need for his 15 minutes of fame and because he was white. It's no different than the commentators who paint white players as smart and black/Asian players as naturally good and talented.

    A former English captain made it clear that Bob Woolmer died because he was Pakistan's coach and if he was not the coach of Pakistan, he would have still been alive. The double standard in the cricketing world was evident at the most recent test match when the English team were practicing on the wicket next to the actual pitch - a clear violation of the law, yet no penalty was enforced. Now go back to Shahid Afridi mesing with the Pitch in the most recent England tour of Pakistan and ask yourself why he was suspended and the English was not even docked 1 run.

    There is a lot of blame to go around and the whole country of Pakistan was cast in a bad light. The media in neighbouring India was salivating at Pakistan's loss and troubles and I am sure that the so called Bollywood movie about Bob Woolmer would have ended with a Pakistani mafia of sorts kiling Mr. Woolmer or something like that.

    A whole lot of people owe the Pakistani players and teh entire country of Pakistan many apologies.

  34. At 07:40 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Seren wrote:

    It is highly unlikely that the Jamaican government would have the decency to apologise.

    The Jamaican government does not have the guts to take responsibility for the complete and utter fiasco in their country.

    That apology should have carried in tandem with Tuesday's announcement by the Jamaican police.

    Why did the media go into a "feral" mode about the case and all the insinuations and accusations against the Pakistan team?

    Some articles even analysed the physique of Inzamam as against Woolmer. Newspaper reviewers in some BBC TV programmes had field days and cast aspertions on the Pakistan team.

    Could it be that the frenzied and biased media coverage was due to the fact that it was the Pakistan team?

  35. At 09:26 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Aidan wrote:

    For as long as the media hype goes on, so does the suffering of the Woolmer family. It is pointles trying to point the finger of blame at anyone for this fiasco. The media won't learn anything from it as sensational news is what the mindless masses want and if that sells newspapers or attracts visitors to websites then it will continue.

    The circumstances of the death were suspicious. No-one could have imagined Ireland beating Pakistan, and given the Asian subcontinent's deep involvement in this in the past it is understandable that some should add two and two to make five!!!

    The Jamaican authorities were in an impossible situation. Should they have said that they were investigating the circumstances around his death and made no further comment? The media would have speculated as always. Or should they have released definitive findings and information? It appears that the findings of two separate pathologists contradict one another so there would have been a retraction of the original info and further news.

    People such as Imran Khan and Mohammed Yousuf would do well to follow the example of Inzamam-Ul-Haq. He was a prime suspect but was happy to offer his assistance in the investigation into the death of his friend and coach. He was willing to make sacrifices to find out the truth and now that the truth is known he is willing to respect the memory of Bob Woolmer and the feelings of the Woolmer family by letting the matter go. It was a sad affair and should now be put to rest to allow the Woolmer family to grieve in private and in peace without further harmful speculation or media interference.

  36. At 10:10 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Phil wrote:

    A couple of points seem to come out of this article and the posts.

    There is a reluctance on the part of the press to ascertain two sources of information to verify truth as in the watergate enquiry, thus speculation is covered by the catch all"it is alledged".

    Exactly what is alledged and by whom?

    Have we now reached a point in cricket where all professional cricket teams are suspect, in a similar way that professional cyclists are suspected of taking drugs to enhance their performance.

  37. At 10:11 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Jamie Dowling wrote:

    When the prolific and well respected coach of a mercurial but sometimes contraversial team dies during a sport's supposedly showpiece event the media are going to dig for every little bit of information they can try and report.

    Just as happens with the supposedly "celebrity" culture in England, the media started digging. With Pakistan cricket there is usually something not too far away, even if it is only by association.

    So it was no surprise when the spectre of match fixing reared its ugly head.

    What I don't understand is why so many people who were not connected with the investigation, like PJ Mir, Imran Khan, et cetera opened their mouths and fanned the flames. Very disrespectful to Bob Woolmer and it must have been torturing for poor Gill and her sons.

    I can't comment in detail about the investigation as I am not an investigator and am not party to the information. Nor am I a pathologist.

    Others have said that Mark Shields was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. A sentiment I agree with. The media reported drip by drip every piece of information that was discovered. Towards the end I wasn't sure what to think. All I knew for certain was that Bob Woolmer had died in Jamaica, a country known for its high murder rate, and the circumstances were not yet clear.

    Anything else was pure speculation, and there was plenty of that.

    Now there are people calling for legal action to be taken against the Jamaican police. The same voices that called for legal action against Darrell Hair, perhaps.

    What grounds are there for legal action? The Jamaican police were investigating a death. That is their job. Cricket administrators and former cricketers should refrain from commenting on issues they know little or nothing about.

    There does need to be something done about this match fixing thing that seems to crop up every so often. But the PCB are the same board which cleared two cricketers who failed drugs tests claiming that the cricketers hadn't been educated properly about doping issues by the PCB. A very thin technicality indeed in this modern era and one which WADA is challenging. That doesn't bode well for sorting this issue out.

    So, who then? I don't know.

    There is much to be learned from this on all sides, I think. Media, players, former players and administrators all played their part in what turned out to be a bit of a pantomime. Look over events, learn from them and resolve never to fan the flames as you all helped to do.

    Sarfraz the best fast bowler Pakistan have produced? Might I suggest that Imran Khan in full flight was a better bowler. Waqar and Wasim too.

    My condolences to Gill and her sons. Bob's influence was felt all over the world and we are poorer for his passing.

  38. At 10:57 PM on 13 Jun 2007, David Edwards wrote:

    Just have to take issue with the guy who praised Tony Blair's criticism of a free press. Blair's attack is basically that the media do not understand why he led us into a war against Iraq, especially as the evidence that was produced certainly did not bare the weight of evidence from the facts behind it. The Woolmer case shows that the press will sensationalise things; but the murder of any high profile public figure is news and everyone was led to believe that it was murder. The pathologist obviously made a massive mistake and what would we be saying if the police had not investigated and it was subsequently found to be murder?

    The Pakistani team could claim to have been unnecessarily harassed, but what else were the police to do? As to the newspaper articles sensationalising the case, it is up to the individual to read what they choose. If you think the author is talking absolute rubbish then don't buy the paper!

  39. At 11:28 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Step wrote:

    Zaheer - you got it... Everything else is muddied - too recent, emotional etc. But Sarfraz the finest fast bowler???? Finest is debatable (would Imran agree)- but fast; no. Although he (I think) does have the best return by a Pakistani bowler in Test cricket? Personally 1 Wasim, 2 Imran 3 Waqar

  40. At 12:52 AM on 14 Jun 2007, Mankyblue wrote:

    RIP Bob i'm sure you were scattered somewhere beautiful and thank you for being a gentleman and a true sportsman.
    Many a policeman journalist and sportsman could and should still learn from you even in death.

  41. At 09:05 AM on 14 Jun 2007, Jeremy Yeomans wrote:

    A brilliant example of the way that the media now word their analysis of situations.

    The golfer David Howell was asked directly by Nicky Campbell on five live this morning what effect Monty's split with his caddy would have on his effort to win his first major.

    Mr Howell gave his opinion, which was objective & fair & moved on.

    In the sports bulletin not 15 minutes later, the 'sports journalist' when commenting on the fact that Monty was in the running used the phrase 'David Howell has questioned the wisdom of Monty going into the US Open without his regular caddy'.

    Obviously Mr Howell did no such thing, he was answering a direct question in relation to this situation.

    By implying that the issue had been raised by Mr Howell, when in fact he had been led into it by the journalist merely illustrates that the act of sensationalising & putting words in other people's mouths is prevalent amongst the journalistic profession at large.

    In my opinion the fact that this is deemed to be necessary indicates a lack of professionalism & trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    With you in your position of sports editor for the BBC Mr Bose, can you please endeavour to raise the standard of reporting to a level that is credible for the Corporation without treating us the public as gormless goldfish please?

  42. At 01:44 PM on 14 Jun 2007, David Bradbury wrote:


    A case of coming too quickly out of the starting blocks has led to a humiliating climbdown over the Woolmer death.
    I would say however, that though I am in no way a supporter of the Labour Party I do agree with Tony Blair's comment (admittedly a generalisation)that the media is out of control. It seems that the desire to sell newspapers these days far outweighs respect for the individual and their families and right to privacy. The people I feel most sorry for are the Woolmer family; what must they have thought, and be thinking, about all that has been said and reported since Bob's untimely death?

  43. At 05:52 PM on 17 Jun 2007, Markymark wrote:

    I don't really get what 'cricket' could have done differently over the Woolmer death. It wasn't the ICC that came to the mistaken assumption of murder, it wasn't the ICC or anyone involved in the organisation of cricket who ties this charge to corruption within the game.

    I think perhaps actually its the media who should been doing some navel gazing over this whole chapter. Its the media that used assumptions to do with race and world geo politics to reach conclusions that helped neither the game of cricket nor the police in there conducting of there investigation. But of course that never happens,the media is always quick to assign responsibility, slow to accept it. The story becomes more important than the truth.

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