Inzamam recalls ~~nightmare~~ of Woolmer inquiry

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain at the World Cup, has spoken of the 'nightmare' he and his team endured after Jamaican police launched a murder investigation into the death of coach Bob Woolmer.

Former England Test batsman Woolmer, 58, died on March 18, the day after 1992 world champions Pakistan were ousted in Jamaica from the 2007 tournament by rank outsiders Ireland.

Days later police announced they were treating the case as murder, saying an autopsy report showed Woolmer had been strangled and prompting speculation the coach's death had been linked to a cricket match-fixing 'mafia'.

However, on Tuesday, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) said Woolmer had died of natural causes.

Inzamam, while relieved at that verdict, said nothing could erase the memory of what were the hardest days of his life.

"I am pleased to hear that Bob was not murdered," Inzamam wrote in Wednesday's edition of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"All the boys will feel the same, as I'm sure his family will also. But this verdict will never take away one of the toughest periods in our lives. It was a nightmare," the batsman explained.

"Those final 10 days in the Caribbean were the hardest of my life. We went through hell.

"I don't know what has happened there but I can tell you it wasn't good for the players or for Pakistan cricket.

"It was hard and painful enough to lose a good friend like Bob, as he was a great human being, but to then be caught up in a murder investigation was very, very difficult for all of us."

"And, as captain, I probably felt the pressure most.

"I was one of the few who saw Bob lying in his room and it was very upsetting. We had become close as captain and coach over the three years he had spent with the Pakistan team.

"We felt at times as though people were pointing the finger at us and that was not fair. It was unbelievable, not right."

Inzamam, who has had a two-month break from cricket, retired from one-dayers at the World Cup and the captaincy has since passed to Shoaib Malik.

However, the 37-year-old right-hander remains a Test player and he is looking to extend his impressive record in the five-day game which has so far seen him score 8,813 runs at an average of more than 50 in 119 matches with 25 hundreds - the 10th highest number of individual centuries in Test history.

"Now I'm mentally focused and feeling refreshed," Inzamam said.

"I'm aware that I need a few runs (21) to pass Javed Miandad to become Pakistan's highest run-scorer, but I'm looking further ahead than that. I want to score at least another thousand Test runs and get to 10,000.

"The summer that Pakistan has coming up later in the year is all the motivation I need, with tough series against South Africa at home, India in India and then Australia at home.

"Hopefully, the selectors will feel that my experience will be useful to the team. Inshallah."

Family relieved that Bob wasn't murdered: The family of former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer expressed relief on Tuesday at the Jamaican police announcement that he had died of natural causes and not murder as initially suspected.

"We hope that this matter will now be closed and that our family will be left to grieve in peace," his widow Gill Woolmer said in a media statement in South Africa, where the highly respected coach was cremated in May.

She also thanked Jamaican police for treating the family well over the course of the three-month investigation.

"We realise that this investigation has been problematical to conduct given the circumstances and the media spotlight that has been focused upon it," she said.

In South Africa, whose national team Woolmer coached from 1994 to 1999, the reaction combined relief for his family with anger at the tortuous investigation.

"Bob left a tremendous legacy in cricket, and to have to go through all this fumbling and bumbling without knowing what happened has been tough," Gary Kirsten, a former South Africa opener, told Reuters.

South-Africa all-rounder Shaun Pollock said: "It still doesn't take away from the fact that Bob died, but at least this gives his family some closure."

Current South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said the finding that Woolmer died of natural causes would help clear the air in the broader cricket world.

"It's a selfish point of view and I know this news doesn't make his family feel any better, but cricket doesn't need more scandals," he said.


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