The Bob Woolmer murder June 12, 2007

PCB says legal action unlikely



Not strangled, not poisoned. Bob Woolmer died a natural death © AFP

The PCB has expressed relief at the u-turn by Jamaican police that Bob Woolmer was not murdered and died instead of natural causes. Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the board, told Cricinfo that it was now time to move on and that there are unlikely to be any legal ramifications from this.

"The board is really glad that this is over especially for the sake of Bob's family and also the Pakistan team and Pakistan cricket in general," Ashraf said. "There was a lot of unhealthy speculation about the cause of his death over the last few months, none of which was helpful."

Pakistan players were caught in the maelstrom of speculation and rumour immediately after Woolmer's death, fuelled in part by the team being questioned and fingerprinted by Jamaican police. Lucius Thomas, Jamaica Constabulary Force's police commissioner, however, thanked the Pakistan players for their assistance. "The whole team were treated with respect throughout the investigation and it is to their credit that we were able to fulfil all of our investigations. I would like to thank the other teams for the support they gave."

Ashraf said the findings vindicated Pakistan's position through the investigation. "We stand fully vindicated. We cooperated to the fullest with Jamaican authorities through the whole episode."

In recent days, Imran Khan, the former Pakistan captain, has argued that the Pakistan board should take legal action against Jamaican authorities for the trauma their team was put through but Ashraf said further action was unlikely. "I don't think there will be any legal ramifications from us. We are very glad the matter is over and it is time to move on now. We were unfairly put in the spotlight because of a lot of speculation and I think it is more important to look at the source of all the speculation and ask some questions of them."

Player reaction was mixed. Inzamam-ul-Haq, captain during the World Cup, told AFP that there was nothing to be gained from taking legal action. "I don't feel court action would be of any use now. The players in general and I, as captain in particular, went through hell and those were the most terrible days of our lives," said Inzamam. "We must be ready to handle such things better in future by involving the government and the (Pakistan Cricket) board from the initial stages."

Inzamam added the Pakistani squad were "more than willing" to cooperate with the police because they believed their statements would help the investigation into the coach's death. "But when it dawned on us later that we were suspected, it was unbelievably horrifying."

Mohammad Yousuf, however, felt that the board should take legal action. "The PCB should take legal action," he told AFP. "But it's not up to the players. We cannot sue the Jamaican police. It is a matter to be handled by the PCB."

"It was their investigation. It was okay and we cooperated, but we were fingerprinted and not allowed to leave, which added to our pain of being knocked out of the World Cup." Yousuf said players had never believed that Woolmer had been murdered. "We felt it was a natural death from day one and we feel the same now."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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