~~Fixing: Woolmer questions police investigations

Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Questioning the Delhi Police's line of investigation in the six-year-old Hansie Cronje match fixing scandal, Bob Woolmer said it is a waste of time and if the sleuths persist with it, they will meet a dead end.

The then South Africa coach was particularly unamused by the Delhi Police examining the use of earpieces by captain Cronje and Alan Donald in a world cup match against India in 1999 and the team's shock defeat against minnows Zimbabwe in later in the tournament.

''Everyone in the game would wish to support K K Paul, who raised the alarm about Cronje in 2000, and his investigating unit in attempting to unravel betting within the game,'' Woolmer, who now trains Pakistan, wrote in ,i>'The Times'.

''But if they persist in examining that match and our defeat by Zimbabwe at Chelmsford later in that World Cup, they will reach a dead end and only waste their time,'' he added.

He dismissed as ''bizarre'' the allegations that the earpieces were used for betting and said it was only one-way communication with the captain and the bolwer for purely cricketing purposes.

''It is bizarre that detectives in India are suspicious that the earpieces I gave Hansie Cronje and Allan Donald during South Africa's World Cup fixture against India in 1999 were utilised to fix the match,'' he said.

''Cronje and Donald were able to hear only me and they could not contact me. The system was used in order to relay cricketing know-how and nothing other than that.

''I guess that my career as a coach will go down as having had its fair share of controversies, but any suggestion that we were using them for betting is not only speculative but far from the truth.'' He defended his decision to provide microphones to the the players and advocated technology's application into the game.

''I might have been naive not to seek permission, but we had been toying with this idea for some time and saw it merely as speeding up communication, as in football. The game spurns science at its peril,'' he said.

Woolmer said he was unaware of instances of match fixing, if any, during his tenure with the Proteas.

''Cronje admitted taking bribe only in 2000 and by the that I was not the coach of South Africa,'' he said.

''It is very disappointing that the 'Cronje-gate' issue has resurfaced, especially after it was dealt with in such an acrimonious and sad way by the King Commission. I personally need to concentrate on the cricket that I am now involved in as coach of Pakistan,'' he said.


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