World Cup security Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
March 24, 2007

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CRICKET World Cup 2007 got off to a spectacular start both on and of the field.

The organisers put on feast of cultural entertainment that must have been the envy of previous and prospective hosts. On the field, the opening match pitted hosts West Indies against Pakistan in a thrilling encounter that saw the West Indies prevail. The tournament could not have asked for a more fitting opening.

Last Sunday, however, disaster struck when the coach of the Pakistan cricket team, Bob Woolmer, was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica, leading to a string of conspiracy theories and anxieties about security at the tournament.

The death of the coach of Woolmer has cast an ominous shadow on Cricket World Cup 2007, and left in its wake concerns that must be of some worry to the International Cricket Council.

Woolmer’s death followed his team’s surprise loss to minnows Ireland in the first round of matches and having already suffered a defeat at the hands of the West Indies this meant that Pakistan, one of the pre-tournament favorites, were sent packing home.

The same night Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. At first it was presumed that he had succumbed to a medical condition. It took some days before it was finally confirmed by the Jamaican authorities that the possibility exists that foul play may have been involved in the death of the coach.

Initially also, it was reported that the results of the autopsy performed were inconclusive but later it was confirmed that Woolmer died from asphyxiation.

Why the Jamaican authorities took so long to indicate that there may have been foul play is still unknown but surely this delay could not have been at all helpful to any criminal investigation that has been or is to be launched into the death of the Pakistani coach.

Questions are also now being raised about a possible breach of security, one of the areas that were previously considered impregnable.

Whatever the true cause of Bob Woolmer’s death, this tragic incident - the likes of which have never occurred during the premier one day cricket tournament - has naturally raised concerns about security within the West Indies.

While these concerns may be exaggerated in the aftermath of Woolmer’s death, it is nonetheless a concern that would be uppermost in the minds and teams that would be making the journey to Guyana for the Super 8 matches scheduled to begin at the National Stadium at Providence next week.

Without prejudice to the outcome of investigations into the death of Woolmer, it would be of some comfort if the local authorities at this time re-emphasise the importance of security and outline the plans that they have in place to ensure the safety of all players and officials.

While the death of Bob Woolmer has placed a damper on the tournament, interest is high, especially now that a clearer picture is emerging as to the possible eight teams that will proceed to the next round.

We are confident that the Guyanese authorities, and specifically, those involved in planning for the Super 8 matches, will spare no effort on ensuring that security is tight and that all bases are covered to ensure an incident-free tournament.