In the wake of Woolmer, cricket must look at itself
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.
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.
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.