Run away train

This World Cup was supposed to be about playing the best cricket, withstanding ‘pressure’, taking wickets and scoring runs in front of expectant crowds and huge television audiences.

Yet for the umpteenth time in the last seven or eight years, the usual population of cricket’s press boxes and media centres has been supplemented by crime reporters and newshounds.

Match-fixing revelations started it all and then came Hansie Cronje’s tragic death. Last year there were bombs in Sri Lanka and now murder.

The mobile phone has become the object of my anger, ringing incessantly and taking voice messages I cannot ever retrieve, thank goodness. When a small window of opportunity does present itself between writing thousands of words about Bob Woolmer, the person on the other is invariably somebody wanting ‘an edge’ on ‘the story’.

The competition amongst journalists and television crews is fierce. I have been pleasantly surprised that a modicum of decorum has existed during the week since Bob’s death was announced but, since his death was confirmed as murder, the impression that some news gatherers would happily throw their mother under a train in pursuit of the story has returned. Especially when I hear stories from home that Cape Town police have been forced to cordon off the streets around the Woolmer house in Pinelands in order to allow Gill and Dale a little privacy from the 30 or more journalists ‘staking out’ their residence.

What on earth do they expect to achieve?

Bob had many friends, he was that sort of person. “Don’t make enemies if you can help it,” he used to say, “it’s just not worth it. Besides, you never know when you might need a friend.”

I count myself as extremely fortunate to have been one of those friends but, equally, I’m struggling horribly with the reality that so many news people believe I, as a friend, might be able to offer them some sort of ‘insight’ into the tragedy that would give them an ‘edge’.

Millions of people, literally, in dozens of countries around the world have been stunned by the news of Bob’s death and their collective hunger for news feeds the media machine that is ploughing through the Caribbean at the moment digging its deepest furrow in Jamaica where his body lies after two autopsies.

It is understandable that the captains and soldiers of this machine will look in every nook and cranny for a lead, let alone an answer. But sitting here on the tiny island of St.Kitts, three flights and a day’s travel from Jamaica, nothing sounds quite as surreal as being asked why I think Bob Woolmer was murdered. Or by whom.

I wish everybody would back off and wait for the Jamaican Police to do their work. But then, I wish the world would do more to stop global warming, as well, and do more to assist the economies of mid-African nations. Fat chance.

Gill no longer has her husband and Dale and Russell no longer have their father. And at the moment, like everyone else, I have no idea why. And the next time the mobile rings with someone asking me what happened, I may well throw it into the Caribbean Sea. No, if I did that all I would hear for the rest of the week would be Bob’s voice chuckling: “Steady, steady, calm down. It’s not the phone’s fault, you know…”

I’ll just turn it off.

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