Pak team arrive in London for short stay

Published: Monday, March 26, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Pakistan's cricketers, dumped out of the sport's showpiece World Cup and rocked by the murder of their coach, arrived in London on Sunday for a pre-arranged stay before heading home.

The team touched down at London's main Heathrow Airport after boarding a flight from the Caribbean late on Saturday.

"All of the camp were very, very down," said Dalawar Chaudhry, who is employed by the team to provide hospitality during their time in Britain, as he waited for the squad to come through arrivals.

"They are young Pakistani boys out of their homeland. Although they have travelled widely, they have never had this type of experience in their lives."

Without specifying exact details, the British stopover was pre-arranged before the World Cup and would give the players time for prayer and reflection before they rejoined their families in Pakistan, he added.

The team were the last to leave the plane and were escorted off by six police officers. Television pictures on Britain's Sky News showed the team looking grim-faced and speaking little as they headed to collect their baggage.

They then boarded a bus parked at the back of the terminal to avoid the phalanx of camera crews waiting for them in the main concourse.

"I have had a word with all the boys and they have lost someone very near and dear to them. A father figure has been lost... They haven't been sleeping well. It's been a very emotional time," Chaudhry said.

All team members were interviewed by police in Jamaica and gave DNA samples and fingerprints before leaving.

Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq, caretaker coach Mushtaq Ahmed and manager Talat Ali were questioned for a second time before they left, although police said there was nothing to suggest any of them was a suspect.

Woolmer, a former England international who coached Pakistan from 2004, was found unconscious in his hotel room in Jamaica last Sunday, a day after the side's shock defeat to minnows Ireland.

He died later in hospital. Police said on Wednesday he had been strangled and they were treating his death as murder.

Rumours have flown in the past week that the 58-year-old's death was connected to match-fixing, either because he was about to expose the extent of the practice in a forthcoming book or because of sums lost by Ireland's win.


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