March 23, 2007 / 7:52 AM / 11 years ago

Former captain Latif suspects betting ring in murder

KARACHI (Reuters) - Former captain Rashid Latif suspects the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer at the World Cup in the Caribbean was carried out by someone with connections to an illegal international betting syndicate.

The 58-year-old died on Sunday after he was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room the morning after his side’s shock defeat to Ireland sent them crashing out of the tournament in the first round.

On Thursday, Jamaican police launched a murder inquiry, saying the Englishman had been strangled.

Latif, who exposed a match-fixing scandal in Pakistan 12 years ago that led to a life ban for former captain Salim Malik and fines for other players, told Reuters on Friday that Woolmer’s murder could be linked to an illegal betting ring.

“I have always said cricket has never been cleansed of corruption despite the measures taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC),” Latif said.

“They (the syndicates) were still active in fixing results of some matches. Whoever murdered Woolmer was clearly desperate or else he would not have been killed in the middle of a World Cup.”

Latif said he had written a letter to the ICC anti-corruption unit four years ago informing the sport’s governing body that bookies were still “fancy fixing” matches.

“I wrote the letter when I was captain of the Pakistan team in England and I told them about my suspicions that some fixing was going.” he said.

“The same month they met with me and I reiterated my fears to them. I also offered to dummy fix a match for them through known contacts in the market to confirm fancy fixing was going on.”

Latif explained that fancy fixing involved taking bets on every ball of the match.

Meanwhile, The Dawn newspaper quoted the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Nasim Ashraf as saying Woolmer had sent him an e-mail after Pakistan’s loss to Ireland confirming he was giving up coaching.

Ashraf quoted Woolmer as saying: “I would like to praise my association with the Pakistan team but now I would like to announce my retirement after the World Cup to live the rest of my life in Cape Town.”

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