IT WAS MEANT tobe a celebration of the world's second most popular team sport and a boost fortourism in the West Indies. But the Cricket World Cup—a quadrennial tournamentthat began last week in Sabrina Park, Jamaica, and will travel to nineCaribbean countries by April 28—has already provided a surfeit of high drama,dark comedy and tragedy. The competition got off to a rousing start on March 13when, to the delight of hometown fans, the West Indies beat Pakistan, theworld's No. 4--ranked team, in the opening match. The first week also sawBangladesh's toppling of heavily favored India and the suspension of Englandvice-captain Andrew Flintoff, who was fined along with five teammates for goingon a bender after their loss to New Zealand. (A presumably in-his-cups Flintoffreportedly had to be rescued while floating in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, aftertumbling out of a paddle boat.) Then on St. Patrick's Day, Ireland, the KansasCity Royals of cricket, pulled one of the biggest upsets in the 32-year historyof the World Cup by beating Pakistan and knocking the 1992 champs from thetournament.
Back in Pakistan,where they take their cricket seriously, that did not play as a cute storyabout the luck o' the Irish. The nation's parliament started an inquiry intothe loss and there were calls for players to be arrested when they returned.Mobs took to the street to burn players in effigy and chant "death to[coach] Bob Woolmer." Then on Sunday morning, Woolmer (left), 58, anEnglishman who had coached Pakistan since 2004 and who was a giant in theinternational cricket community, did die in a Kingston hospital after beingfound unconscious in his hotel room.
The officialcause of death was unknown on Monday, though British press reports said he hadpossibly overdosed on prescription drugs and alcohol, or had a heart attack.Woolmer's wife, Gill, told London's The Mirror that her husband was depressedover Pakistan's defeats and that "his job coaching there has beenincredibly stressful." On Sunday all of Jamaica took a deep breath andwatched a rerun of the gala opening ceremony on TV.