Cricket Coach Found Strangled Pakistan's cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, was strangled in a Jamaican hotel room the day after his team lost to Ireland in the Cricket World Cup. Woolmer was appointed coach of Pakistan's team in 2005.
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Cricket Coach Found Strangled

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Cricket Coach Found Strangled

Cricket Coach Found Strangled

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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

Cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world are in a state of shock over the apparent murder of Pakistan's coach, Bob Woolmer. Woolmer, who was 58, was found unconscious in his blood-splattered hotel room in Jamaica on Sunday. A day earlier, his favored Pakistani team had suffered a humiliating defeat to Ireland - newcomers to World Cup Cricket.

Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times national weekly newspaper, published in Lahore, Pakistan, joins us on the line. Mr. Sethi, first of all, who was Bob Woolmer and how was he viewed in the cricket world and in Pakistan?

Mr. NAJAM SETHI (Editor, The Friday Times): Oh, Bob Woolmer was a former England cricketer who would become a coach, and had coached various international cricket teams until he became Pakistan's coach as well, about three years ago I think. And his contract for this is going to end at the end of this tour, and there are some doubt whether it might be renewed or not.

And Bob had been close to the team, and was pretty well loved by his teammates. In recent times, there'd been some controversies. Some former captains of the Pakistan cricket team are following Pakistani cricket team's defeat in various international matches had questioned his the ability and his competence as a coach.

YDSTIE: And who do the police suspect is behind the murder?

Mr. SETHI: The suspicion is that it could have been either people who won a lot of money after Pakistan lost that match, i.e. match-fixing, and we're afraid that Woolmer had found out who they were. He might disclose their identity. And…

YDSTIE: You're saying people who had won a lot of money. Was - are you suggesting that they might have fixed the match in some way?

Mr. SETHI: That's right. There have been allegations of match fixing. In international cricket, almost every team has been accused of it. It's not entirely clear, whether it was the Pakistani players who were involved, or whether it was some outside elements, or whether there were some connection between bookies and Pakistani players. So that's obviously one line of thinking.

The other, of course, line of thinking is that following the defeat, there were many Pakistanis who were very, very angry as effigies of Mr. Woolmer and the Pakistani captain were burnt the day the Pakistanis lost this particular match because it basically meant that they were chucked out of the reckoning as far as the World Cup was concerned.

So it might have been a deranged individual who got so mad that he thought that he would exact revenge and ended up doing this to Mr. Woolmer.

YDSTIE: I presume, though, that once a folks in Pakistan founded Woolmer had been murdered, the sentiment probably shifted quite quickly.

Mr. SETHI: Indeed. The sentiments shifted the day after the Pakistan team lost the match because it was first assumed that Woolmer had died of a heart attack, and all across Pakistan, people are saying that Woolmer was a true Pakistani patriot because he'd been so stricken by the grief that he'd succumbed to tension, whereas the rest of the Pakistani cricket team that should've really been held accountable was going on as though nothing had happened.

So there was a wave of sympathy for Woolmer and lots of people wrote about it. And indeed yesterday, in response to the wave of sympathy for Mr. Woolmer, the government of Pakistan announced a national award for him because it was thought that he died of grief. It turns out that it may not have been a heart attack or grief, but that he might have been dastardly murdered as part of some conspiracy.

Pakistanis are in a state of shock right now.

YDSTIE: Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times, a national weekly newspaper in Pakistan, talking with us about the murder of Pakistan's cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, in Jamaica this past weekend.

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