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World Cup will continue, says ICC

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LONDON, England -- Cricket's World Cup will continue despite the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer which has cast a pall over events on the field at the tournament in the Caribbean.

World governing body, the International Cricket Council, reacted quickly to the confirmation late on Thursday night that Woolmer had been strangled in his hotel room in Kingston.

"This is not the first time that tragedy has visited a sporting event but what we must all do now is to show how resolute the game is by proving ourselves strong enough to move on from what has happened," ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said in a statement.

"The best way to do that is for the teams that remain in the tournament to play out a great World Cup, something that will help put the smile back on the face of our great sport.

"By doing that we will demonstrate that cricket cannot be put off by a cowardly criminal act," he said.

World Cup chief executive and managing director Chris Dehring added: "We have reviewed security arrangements in conjunction with the ICC and local agencies and consulted with all the teams and they have told us they are comfortable with those arrangements.

"On that basis, it is up to the Jamaica Constabulary Force to get on with its job while our focus now is on some great cricket to come."

But former South African Test great Allan Donald, a close friend of Woolmer, disagreed with the decision.

"I just don't know how this World Cup can continue under the shadow of what's happened," he said. "World Cup 2007 will be forever remembered for this," he told BBC Radio Five.

Extraordinary incidents

The death of Woolmer, 58, is the latest in a series of extraordinary incidents surrounding Pakistan cricket since last summer.

The final match of their 2006 Test series in England exploded into controversy as the tourists were accused of ball-tampering by umpires Darryl Hair and Bill Doctrove.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and his team refused to return to the field at the Oval and subsequently forfeited the match.

The decision sparked massive protests in Pakistan as Hair was accused of 'racism' and bias.

Inzamam was eventually cleared of ball tampering by the ICC after a two-day hearing in London, but was banned for four one-day internationals for bringing the game into disrepute. Hair was later taken off the elite panel of international umpires by the ICC.

The dust had barely settled on the ball-tampering affair, when Pakistan were forced to send home fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from the Champions Trophy one-day tournament after they tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

Shoaib was handed a two-year ban by the Pakistan cricket board (PCB), who also suspended Asif for 12 months after finding the pair guilty of doping offenses.

But in December the PCB controversially cleared the duo on appeal and the bans were scrapped.

The decision infuriated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who took up the case with the ICC after stating the appeals commission's decision appeared to be unreasonable and a violation of the anti-doping code.

Pakistan initially included Shoaib and Asif in a 15-man World Cup squad, but they were withdrawn on the eve of the tournament.

Their absence proved to be sorely felt as Pakistan were beaten by hosts West Indies and then slumped to a stunning defeat to rank outsiders Ireland which eliminated them from the competition.

Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room less than 24 hours after the defeat.


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ICC chief inspector Malcolm Speed (right) is flanked by Jamaica's deputy police commissioner Mark Shields.

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