Pakistan's Cricket Team to Return Home After Coach's Murder

Two Pakistani diplomats headed to Jamaica on Saturday to assist the investigation of the murder of World Cup cricket coach Bob Woolmer, Jamaican authorities said, as the team prepared to go home.

Two Pakistani team officials will stay behind "to take care of Bob Woolmer's interests," Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields told reporters Saturday in the capital of Kingston.

A team spokesman, however, dismissed rumors that some team members may be detained as uninformed speculation.

"This is a very shocking affair and the team is absolutely devastated by this news, more so when we heard that Mr. Woolmer had been murdered," team spokesman Pervez Jamil Mir told reporters at an impromptu news conference at the team's hotel on Saturday.

The team was due to leave the island Saturday evening, a day after submitting DNA samples to Jamaican police investigating Woolmer's murder. The affable 58-year-old Englishman was found strangled on March 18 in his Kingston hotel room.

"We know Bob had been murdered, and that's all we can say, he's been murdered, but murdered, why? What are the reasons? We don't know," Mir said.

Woolmer's body will stay in Jamaica pending a coroner's inquest into the popular sporting figure's grisly murder. He was killed a day after his powerhouse squad's humiliating defeat to Ireland, a relative cricket lightweight in its World Cup debut. The loss prevented Pakistan from advancing in the tournament.

Mir identified the two Pakistani officials due to arrive on Saturday as diplomats from the country's embassy in Washington. It was not clear in what capacity they would assist the investigation.

Police have urged witnesses to come forward and have not named any suspects in the killing, which has cast a pall over cricket's premier tournament being played on nine Caribbean islands through late April.

Intense speculation within the global cricket fraternity has focused on everyone from crazed fans to a gambling mafia and even disgruntled Pakistani players.

Team manager Talat Ali said the players were "relieved" to go home after spending two days holed up in a luxurious hotel in the seaside resort town of Montego Bay. On Friday, some team members passed the time sitting poolside after a meal. Five players knelt on white sheets on the hotel lawn to pray.

"I think that Bob will always be missed by the players as well as the Pakistan Cricket board," Ali said. "You know, he did a tremendous job for us."

The international governing body of cricket said it would investigate whether match fixing was a motive for the murder.

A writer co-authoring a book with Woolmer has denied a claim by former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz that Woolmer, a former player for England and coach for South Africa, was killed because he was writing a book that would expose illegal gambling in the sport.

Ivo Tennant was the co-author of the coach's autobiography and its planned sequel.

"I can state that he had no intention of writing or publicizing any such detail in either this or his book on coaching and sports science, which will be published in June," Tennant wrote in a story published Saturday on The Times of London Web site.

Shields said more than one person may have killed Woolmer in his 12th-floor room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel and police are reviewing security camera footage.

Whoever murdered the burly coach entered his room without force, suggesting that Woolmer may have known his killer or killers.

"With that many people in the hotel it's no doubt that somebody saw something," said Shields, a former Scotland Yard detective who was brought to Jamaica in 2005 to help control the country's skyrocketing murder rate.