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Woolmer murder puts corruption in the spotlight

Written by: Staff

Port of Spain (Trinidad), Mar 23: The news that Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer was murdered has once again turned the spotlight on corruption in the game.

Jamaican police said Woolmer, one of cricket's most respected coaches, had been strangled in his hotel room at the World Cup, immediately raising the issues of match-fixing and bribery which have dogged the sport in recent years.

Cricket was rocked in 2000 when Delhi police launched a criminal investigation into alleged match-fixing involving former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje.

Police registered criminal cases against Cronje and three of his team mates after taping conversations with a bookmaker.

Cronje subsequently admitted to South Africa's King Commission of inquiry that he accepted thousands of dollars from illegal bookmakers to provide pitch and team information.

He said he never fixed a match.

Banned from cricket for life, Cronje died in a plane crash in 2002. He worked closely for five years with Woolmer, who was South Africa coach from 1994 to 1999.

Other bribery and corruption cases have been less high profile than Cronje's.

Australian players Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were fined by their board for providing pitch and weather information in 1994 to an illegal bookmaker in India.

The findings of an Indian federal police investigation into corruption in cricket released in October 2000 named many leading players and said betting syndicates could be in touch with the criminal underworld.

An Indian cricket board internal investigation into that report led to life bans for former captain Mohammad Azharuddin and another international player, Ajay Sharma.

All-rounder Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja were suspended for five years. All have denied any wrongdoing.

Former Pakistan skipper Saleem Malik was also banned for life in 2000 over match-fixing allegations.

People bet millions of dollars on international cricket matches in the sub-continent, particularly in India and Pakistan.

Betting is illegal in India and police frequently break syndicates receiving bets on cricket matches. Few of the cases lead to conviction, however, due to lack of evidence.

The bribery issue reared its head again in January.

Indian police said they were investigating West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels over the player's alleged attempt to pass confidential team information to an illegal bookmaker during a one-day international in Nagpur.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption wing is investigating the case. Samuels is a member of the West Indies World Cup squad.


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