Beer, Chips and Cricket

This is a site about drinking beer, eating chips and thinking cricket. I am not a former player, a television commentaror or a journalist; my qualification to being worthy of hearing is that I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of chips and think a lot about cricket. The thoughts need not be politically correct and often include colourful language but there will be no deliberate bias towards any player, community or state. I don't care about popular opinion or perceptions and I speak it as I see it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Woolmer saga

About ten days into the world cup and Pakistan bites the dust, Gibbs hits six sixes in an over, Bangladesh give India a roundhouse punch, and the man considered by some as the best coach in the world, Bob Woolmer, is dead.

I bet none of the previous world cups had so much action so early ... in fact, did any of them have so much action in the entire world cup?

I can probably break down my thoughts into different posts ... and the first one I want to talk about is the death of Bob Woolmer.

Even when I heard about Bob Woolmer's death (I was in Tirupati then and read about it in the morning newspaper), the first thing that struck me is - It had to happen to the Pakistan coach. Now that it has been proved to be murder, and not a natural death as thought earlier, let me ask one question - of all the coaches in the world cup, if one had to be killed, which one would be the favorite if an opinion poll was taken? Pakistan's of course!

Sigh!!! All I can say is - poor chap. Now there is speculation about his memoirs exposing a matchfixing nexus, and basically everything related to matchfixing. However, somehow this doesn't strike me as something so simple.

Consider this - We don't know if Woolmer was planning some sensational expose in his book, but for sake of argument, say it is so. Fine! Pakistan lose to Ireland and go out of the world cup ... and more so, losing to a newcomer like Ireland would have really sucked. The same day, Woolmer had to be killed coz he would expose some match fixing issue? As it was, the world was focussing on the mighty Pakistan team losing to Ireland, and the people who killed him, wanted to kill him in the middle of all this limelight already on Pakistan's captain / coach / players? Was Bob Woolmer going to publish his memoirs the same night? Was he going to send a mail with a copy of his memoirs to his publisher the same night? What was the urgency? If indeed he had to be silenced, they could have waited for the team / coach to fly out of the Windies (and away from the World Cup spotlight). In all probability, Woolmer would be sacked and go back home ... even if he were not sacked immediately, he would definitely head back home. Would it have been so difficult to have killed him in SA ... made it look as a mugging or something? If news broke of Woolmer being mugged on the streets of Cape Town, would everyone have screamed "match fixing"? Now that he has been killed in the middle of the world cup, on the day the team he coaches, loses to Ireland, of course, it is too much of a co-incidence to consider his murder not linked to match fixing.

The method and means of the murder also seem crude. A manual struggle ... leading to his blood and vomit being sprayed on the walls ... neck broken ... hell, that wouldn't have been a silent discussion. It would have made a bit of noise and the worry of someone hearing and investigating was always there. Heck, there is supposed to be a lot of security provided to all teams, isn't it?

My take on it? I am a simple man, and prefer to see the simple side of things. Sure, it could all be much more complex, but to me this seems to be a spontaneous kind of behavior. Some guy who is totally pissed off (maybe a fan, maybe a player who wasn't played or who thinks Woolmer's tactics sucked) comes over to his room ... reports suggest that there was no forced entry and hence Woolmer had to let in the guy (s) ... a heated argument going on the lines of "because of ur stupid tactics, we lost to Ireland ... can u phucking imagine that ... Ireland" or "why the hell didn't u pick me in the 11 .... are u trying to ruin my career or something". Words lead to more heated words, a scuffle and then maybe fists flying. Sure, this doesn't sound so dangerous but then a couple of punches landing in wrong places could very well damage a man of Woolmer's age. More so, when Woolmer was found by the hotel maid or whoever, he wasn't dead yet. He was unconscious and died later (if reports are correct). Is someone seriously telling me that professionals (match fixing issues would deal with some kind of professionals, I guess) would try to kill a man and then leave him unconscious where hey, he might recover and still do what they don't want him to do?

An amateur approach to the murder (or manslaughter, in case it was a spontaneous heat-of-the-moment thing) would involve gettinng the murderer's fingerprints or some clues from the scene of the crime. A more professional approach (hey, maybe Woolmer was dead when the maid found him ... we don't really know for sure yet) would ensure that almost no clues r found on the scene of the crime. Probably, how easy it is to solve the murder would probably answer the question of whether it was some fan / player / someone or someone actually linked to the betting syndicate who did this.

Two of the guys - Cronje and Woolmer - involved in the biggest corruption scandal to hit international cricket, are now dead. Yes, Cronje was guilty and Woolmer was never shown to be involved in anything illegal. But still Cronje managed to do his bit for infamy without the coach even having a clue? And now, both of them are dead. Probably unrelated deaths ... but then what a coincidence.

In the end, whatever it might be, a man dying is always sad news. For friends, relatives etc it would be devastating. But for the average cricket fan, a man as exciting as Woolmer in a coaching role .... his loss is a big one.

I wonder who is going to be brave enough to apply for the post of the coach of Pakistan cricket team?


The Chuckster


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