Bob Woolmer RIP

Born in India, played for England, coached South Africa and Pakistan, and died in Jamaica. Bob Woolmer was truly a man of the world and will be mourned by all in the cricketing fraternity. Woolmer played 19 tests for England after making his debut against Australia in 1974. He joined Kerry Packer’s World Series in 1977 and was a member of a rebel England tour to South Africa in the early 80’s. Although a fine all rounder, he was , named one of Wisdens 5 Cricketers of the year in 1975, it was as a coach that Woolmer excelled. He won a string of trophy’s while coaching Warwickshire in the 90’s. It was during this golden period that Allan Donald. Brian Lara, and Shaun Pollock played under him at varies stages. His great success and growing reputation at Warwickshire lead to his appointment as South African coach in the mid Nineties. After a triangular series in Pakistan, against the hosts and Australia, where South Africa lost all 6 games, Woolmer did not make the best of starts to his international coaching career. However from there South Africa went from strength to strength and with a close relationship with captain Hansie Cronje, Woolmer and South Africa enjoyed their most successful period in post isolation cricket. In 117 ODI’s they won 83 – a 73% win rate. In tests they enjoyed 10 series wins out of 15 played. During his tenure as coach South Africa were arguably the best ODI team in world cricket and were within the top two in Test cricket. In 1998 they won the inaugural Champions Trophy. In both 1996 and 1999 they went into the World Cup as the favourites but failed to win the trophy. In 1996 after winning all their group matches they were beaten by the West Indies in the quarter finals, with Brian Lara scoring a memorable 100. Agonisingly in 1999 they were knocked out in the Semi Final after tying with Australia. That would prove to be Woolmers last game in charge of South Africa. He then worked with the ICC helping developing counties, most notably Namibia. In 2004 he took charge of Pakistan, one of the most difficult jobs in sport. Together win captain Inzamam Ul Haq, he brought a togetherness to a Pakistan team that has seldom been seen. They were a very talented and constantly improving team and went into this World Cup as one of the favourites. Unfortunately they were knocked out after losing to the West Indies and then to Ireland in the biggest upset in World Cup history. Woolmer was died the next morning. He was known as a cricketing man, always having time to talk to anyone about the game he loved so dearly. His coaching brought with it innovation and commitment. He was the first to start using technology to further his coaching and his teams success and would rarely be seen without his laptop. In the 99 World Cup he pushed this innovation to far for some when he used an ear piece to communicate on the field to his captain Hansie Cronje. He was always ahead of everyone and used to say of his innovated theories that in a few months or a year everyone would be playing cricket this way. Although his relationship with the Pakistani players was very good and spirit and togetherness within the team was as good as its ever been, his time as coach did have its fair share of stress and controversy. In August last year Pakistan were involved in the infamous ball tampering saga that ultimately cost umpire Daryl Hair his job. Before the Champions Trophy in October and November he saw his two best bowlers, Mohammed Asif and Shoaib Akhtar, fail a drugs test. Their bans were later over turned but both were left out of the World Cup team through injury. Then came the defeat to Ireland. One of the most popular and knowledgeable men in cricket has passed. He will be greatly missed by all. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Bob Woolmer RIP.

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