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Match-fixing scandal revives Woolmer suspicions

A few weeks ago we were relishing some thrilling Test match duels between Pakistan's dramatic new fast bowler, 18-year old Mohammad Amir and Eoin Morgan, England's Santry-born former Ireland swashbuckling batsman.

Unfortunately the gloss was taken off the sporting performances by the spot-fixing scandal that has since engulfed the Pakistan team.

As the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit goes about its job of investigating the players in question, the Pakistan government has gone a step further. Yesterday it demanded detailed information of bank accounts, property portfolios and all assets, including cars, of all players who represented Pakistan since 2005.

Might their findings prompt a re-opening of the case of the mysterious death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer in Jamaica during the 2007 Cricket World Cup?

On St. Patrick's Day, Ireland scored 133 for 7 and caused a major upset by beating Pakistan by three wickets and knocking them out of the World Cup. It was one of the greatest shocks in cricketing history.

Afterwards, Woolmer was distraught. His death in his hotel room that night came as a sensational shock. There was even greater shock when the police announced the death was being treated as murder.

The Pakistan players and officials were fingerprinted. The main theory rumoured at the time was that the coach's death was as a result of a row over match-fixing.

A UK Home Office pathologist flew to Jamaica to investigate the matter and it was eventually declared that Woolmer had died of natural causes.

"Our cricketers come from humble backgrounds," says PCB chairman Tauqir Zia. "They lack proper education and think their only chance to earn money is while they are playing, so they want to earn as much as they can and the match-fixing circle is vicious once you enter it. There is no way out."

This current scandal has yet to be fully played out.


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