Cricket coach's death due to 'manual strangulation'

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The genteel sport of cricket was dealt
a brutal blow when Jamaican police said Pakistan's national coach
was killed in his hotel room a day after his team suffered a
humiliating World Cup loss.

Bob Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his blood- and
vomit-splattered hotel room in Jamaica on Sunday after his team's
defeat to Ireland on St. Patrick's Day sealed Pakistan's ouster
from the tournament.

He was later declared dead at a hospital. Police said at the
time that initial tests didn't indicate how he died.

But Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas said Thursday in a
statement that the pathologist report found Woolmer's death was due
to "asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation." Police said
they were reviewing security cameras at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel
and urging witnesses to come forward.

"It is our belief that those associated with or having access
with Mr. Woolmer may have vital information to assist this
inquiry," Thomas said in the statement.

There was no evidence of forced entry, police said. No arrests
have been made and there are no suspects in the case.

"There are certainly a number of lines of inquiry that we are
looking at and we have some theories of what may have happened, but
it's too early to go public with them," Mark Shields, the deputy
police commissioner, said Friday on Jamaican radio.

Shields said Thursday that police were investigating if more
than one person could have been involved.

"Because Bob was a large man, it would have taken some
significant force to subdue him, but of course at this stage we do
not know how many people were in the room," he said. "It could be
one or more people involved in this murder."

Woolmer's death prompted much speculation among followers of
cricket, a slow-paced sport that breaks for tea. Despite its gentlemanly manner, the sport generates
tremendous passion in Britain and its former colonies.

Protesters in several Indian cities, for instance, burned
effigies of their national cricket players and destroyed portions
of one player's half-built home after the team was beaten Sunday by

"I couldn't have imagined even in my dreams that it could turn
out to be a murder case," Pakistan's 1992 World Cup winning coach
Intikhab Alam told The Associated Press in Pakistan. "You can't
have more shocking news than this."

Shields declined to comment when asked about local media reports
describing the condition of Woolmer's body. "There are some issues
surrounding marks on his body, but for the moment I would rather we
stick to the cause of death, which is asphyxia," he said.

Pakistan's team spokesman Pervez Jamil Mir said the players were
shocked by the news Woolmer had been killed. "I've spoken to the
chairman and he's totally devastated. He can't believe it. He's
very, very distressed. The team is distressed. Everybody is
absolutely in a state of shock," he said.

On Friday, Shields said the Pakistani players would be allowed
to leave Jamaica.

Pakistan's cricketers were fingerprinted and interviewed by
police Thursday, then allowed to travel across the island to
Montego Bay.

Assistant Police Commissioner Les Green said the team was
fingerprinted as part of standard procedure "to eliminate persons
from fingerprints which would be found in the room."

"After a thorough investigation, fingerprints not belonging to
Mr. Woolmer were found in the room," he told the AP.

An outspoken Pakistani player speculated that gambling interests
had it in for Woolmer. The coach's widow said he was depressed
about losing the game, but would never have committed suicide. She
said an irate fan might have killed her husband.

"Some of the cricketing fraternity, fans, are extremely
volatile and passionate about the game and what happens in the
game," Gill Woolmer said Thursday in an interview from South
Africa with Britain's Sky TV. "So I suppose there is always the

Gill Woolmer said her husband had not recently mentioned
anything about match fixing. He had been South Africa's coach in
the 1990s when the team's captain, Hansie Cronje, admitted taking
money to fix matches and was banned for life. Woolmer was never

The head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption
unit will investigate if match fixing had played a role in
Woolmer's death, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said. The World
Cup tournament will continue.

Woolmer's death left the Pakistan national team in tatters and

Team captain Inzamam-ul-Haq announced his resignation and
retirement from one-day cricket after Woolmer's death, then led
Pakistan to an emotional victory Wednesday against Zimbabwe. A fan
at the match hoisted a sign saying: "Do it for Bob."

The burly, bearded team captain left the field weeping after the
victory he dedicated to Woolmer. "He's not in this world now and
every Pakistani and every cricket lover is sad," he said.

Woolmer, who is British, was born in India, played for England
and recently split his time between Pakistan and South Africa. He
is being accorded hero status in Pakistan after his death.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he would be awarded
the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, or Star of Excellence, for his contribution to