Pakistan players speak about Woolmer
* Alison Mitchell
* 22 Mar 07, 02:48 PM
BBC Sport's Alison MitchellKingston - After bowing out of the World Cup, Pakistan headed back to the team hotel in Kingston to pay their own personal tribute to coach Bob Woolmer.
Each player took it in turn to stand at a small lectern, packed with media microphones balanced precariously over each other, and say a few words about their coach and father figure.
It was explained beforehand that they would be speaking in whichever language they chose. They mostly chose English, and all spoke eloquently and poignantly, without notes...
The players were seated along the left, facing into the lectern, and a bank of photographers were allowed to station themselves opposite, while we, the media, filled the remaining seats facing forward.
It seemed a little unfair to subject the players to such public scrutiny at this emotional time, particularly having cameras zooming in on their grief, but I guess the worldwide interest warranted such a move.
My heart went out to young wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, who after telling the assembled media he would miss Bob “for the rest of my life,” returned to his seat and broke down in tears.
Mushtaq Ahmed was assistant coach to Bob, and gave the most moving tribute of all.
“He was a great man and he was a lovely friend. He was a part of our body. He was our heart. The heart is the most important part of the body. We lost our heart.”
He talked about what a humble man Bob was, how he used to forgive people so easily. Mushie finished by simply saying, “we have lost one of our family members. When you lose a family member, there is no replacement for that.”
It was optional for the players and management to attend the evening. The only player missing was Shahid Afridi.
Ireland coach Adrian Birrell, and manager Roy Torrens also spoke. Burrell knew Bob from South Africa, and spoke of his legacy in coaching: “I don’t think there’s another coach in the history of coaching that’s done more for cricket than Bob Woolmer.”
He added that everyone will remember him “for the coaching he’s done, for what he stood for in life, and how many people he moved.”
He also praised the courage of the Pakistan team for fulfilling their last World Cup fixture against Zimbabwe, a match that marked Inzamam-ul-Haq’s last game as captain, and his last one-day International.
I will remember it for Inzamam’s emotional exit from the field. His team-mates streamed onto the outfield to form a guard of honour and all the strain of the preceding days finally caught up with him.
Inzi, such a stoical colossus of a figure, could no longer keep his emotions in check and the tears came pouring out.
Inzi gave me a few words of English after the game, and the tension of the circumstances broke a little when I asked him about the guard of honour.
He afforded a self-conscious smile, saying it took him by surprise. He thanked the boys, but said today’s game was all about dedicating it to Bob.