Pakistan cricket in turmoil after death of coach

Updated: March 21, 2007, 9:54 AM ET
Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer is being treated as "suspicious" by Jamaican police.

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During a late-night news conference at the team's hotel Tuesday night, deputy police commissioner Mark Shields read a statement which said, "Having met with the pathologist, other medical personnel and investigators there is now sufficient information to continue a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Woolmer, which we are now treating as suspicious."

Asked if Jamaica police were pursuing a murder investigation, Shield said: "No, we are not saying that."

The news conference in Jamaica was called after reports emerged in Pakistan's print and electronic media of a murder plot.

The 58-year-old Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room Sunday, hours after Pakistan was upset by Ireland and eliminated from advancing at the Cricket World Cup.

Earlier Tuesday, government officials had said a preliminary autopsy on Woolmer was inconclusive.

"We have already informed the Woolmer family of this development and we are also in close contact with the Pakistan team management, Cricket World Cup and ICC to ensure all parties are kept informed of the ongoing investigation," Shields read from the statement.

"The fact of the matter is that Pakistan's cricket is at the crossroads."

-- Wasim Bari, a former Pakistan wicketkeeper

The news only added to the turmoil surrounding the Pakistan team.

Earlier Tuesday, Pakistan Cricket Board head Naseem Ashraf and the organization's three-member selection committee resigned over the losses to the West Indies and Ireland and its humiliating elimination from the World Cup.

The resignations were submitted to the country's president, General Pervez Musharraf -- the patron of the Pakistan board.

"Ashraf faxed his resignation last night and it's now up to the patron whether he accepts it or not," board spokesman Ahsan Malik said.

Pakistan's cricket program has been reeling since Saturday's loss.

"The fact of the matter is that Pakistan's cricket is at the crossroads," said chief selector Wasim Bari, a former wicketkeeper for Pakistan.

Former Pakistan bowlers Iqbal Qasim and Ehteshamuddin were the other members of the selection committee who also tendered their resignations.

"We had decided soon after the debacle against Ireland that we are going to resign," Bari said. "After talking with Ashraf last night, we had submitted our resignations to the PCB."

Meanwhile, the Pakistani players dedicated themselves to winning their final match for Woolmer.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, who announced his resignation as captain and retirement from one-day cricket following Woolmer's death, said the team owed Woolmer a victory.

"We'll do our best for Bob, but whatever we do, it won't be enough," the 37-year-old batsman said. "He was a good man. Whenever any of the boys had a problem, he'd sit with them, and we were very attached to him.

"He was a very good coach and human being. Because of this, he had a lot of respect from the team. He was brave and knew how to handle the situation when everybody was feeling down. He will be well remembered."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press