Cronjegate resurfaces

Earpieces were not for betting

Bob Woolmer says that normal service needs to resume again soon for Pakistan

Bob Woolmer

October 23, 2006

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Herschelle Gibbs and lawyer on their way meet with Delhi police © AFP
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There are not many days that go by in the subcontinent where innuendo and speculation end up making a newspaper piece or invite TV comment. For Pakistan there is a sign hanging over us: "Normal service will be resumed soon".

However, what normal service is has yet to be defined, although the cricketers have made it clear that focusing on the game is the most important issue and they want to leave all the baggage behind. Yet controversy, as I said, is the food of the Indian media and without a word of warning it all started again with an article suggesting that Scotland Yard will now be called on to look back at the 1999 World Cup.

This comes after the recent Herschelle Gibbs interview/interrogation with the Delhi police in Mumbai. KK Paul, the Delhi police commissioner who raised the alarm in 2000 with the Cronjegate tapes, chatted to Gibbs, and suddenly poor old Derek Crookes, the South African spinner, was implicated. Now you have to know Crookes - and I do as we have been on at least two tours together - and I remember him being adamant against any dealings with bookies while playing on the 1996 tour.

It was in Kanpur that Hansie Cronje was invited by Mohammad Azharuddin to meet a keen cricket fan; I was present when they were introduced in the lobby and then they went off to a room. What happened then has been recorded at the King Commission held in 2000 in Cape Town.

During the early years of speculation, people looked for any signs that money might have exchanged hands. The Pakistan against Bangladesh game [during the 1999 World Cup] at Northampton was a case in point.

The first games looked at were those slating minnows against the big boys, and now recent newspaper reports suggest that South Africa's game against Zimbabwe at Chelmsford is suspect because Zimbabwe beat us. On the day Zimbabwe played better cricket and we were extremely disappointed - in fact Cronje and I had an argument over the way we had prepared for the game, having gone to Holland for the match before, which he felt was disruptive.

Our travel plans were poor and we stayed in a hotel miles out of town. The dressing-rooms at Chelmsford are too small for touring teams and the net bowlers were poor at practice. A lot of small things started to conspire against our preparation.

By the time the Zimbabwe game arrived we were all pretty ratty. That, more than any other reason, was why we did not perform to our best. Also, in those days Zimbabwe were a good team and not the complete underdogs they are now. They were quite capable of beating anyone in the tournament. There was no question of any betting or bookie involvement that I knew about.

Even more bizarre is that the detectives have been asked to take a look at the earpieces (and microphones) that were used at Hove during the game against India. I say bizarre because, quite frankly, the earpieces were used for one hour and ten minutes before we were instructed to stop by the match referee.

The players then did not have any microphones or transmitters with them - it was only one-way communication, from the coach to the player. The practice has since been banned by the ICC. Allan Donald and Cronje were wearing the two earpieces but any suggestion that we were using them for betting purposes is mere speculation and far removed from the truth.

I guess that my career as a coach will go down as one with its fair share of controversy and trying to explain exactly what really happened. At the same time, it is very disappointing that Cronjegate has resurfaced after six years.

More importantly I need to concentrate on the cricket that we [Pakistan] are playing. Normal service has to be resumed.

Click here to send us your comments on this article. Bob Woolmer is Pakistan's coach and writes a blog, Bob's World, for Cricinfo

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