Tributes pour in for Woolmer

The cricket world is in mourning today as news of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer’s death filters through the Caribbean.

The president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf led the condolences along side Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

“President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have expressed heartfelt condolences over the tragic death of Pakistan cricket team coach Bob Woolmer,” said a joint statement released today.

“In their separate messages, they said that Bob Woolmer had promoted the cause and game of cricket in Pakistan with dedication and single mindedness,” it added.

“In their messages to his family they said Bob Woolmer’s services to the game will be long remembered by cricket fans.”

Head of the ICC, Malcolm Speed, also expressed his sorrow at learning of Woolmer’s death.

“Bob probably touched more teams here than anyone else. He played for England, coached South Africa in two World Cups, and he was coaching Pakistan here,” he said.

“From 2001 to 2004 he was the high performance coach for us at the ICC and worked with all countries. He was passionate about that and passionate about the game.

“On behalf of the ICC I wish to express our condolences to Mrs Woolmer and all of Bob’s family.”

The sentiments were echoed by Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.

“Australian fans will best remember him for the runs he made against us in Ashes cricket but we also remember him as a pioneering coach, as an international man of cricket though his work for England, South Africa and Pakistan, and as one of cricket’s gentlemen,” Mr Sutherland said.

“Our condolences go to his family and loved ones at this sad time”.

Perhaps the most visibly shaken was his captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who voiced his sadness over the death during his retirement press-conference today.

“He was a good man. Whenever any of the boys had a problem, he’d sit with them, and we were very attached to him,” Inzamam said.

“After the match, we’d talked a little about it. I told him that we’d discuss it tomorrow, but tomorrow never came.”

International Cricket Council president Percy Sonn also added to the growing voices of commiseration.

“On behalf of the ICC, I would like to express my shock and sadness at this terrible news. My thoughts are with Bob’s wife and family at this time,” he said.

“I knew Bob for many years through our roles within cricket in South Africa and it is difficult to think of a man who was more committed to the betterment of the sport than him.

“He combined a detailed technical knowledge of the game with a free-thinking approach and he was always one prepared to push the envelope and experiment to see if things could be done better.”

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Naseem Ashraf said in a statement today: “He was a thorough gentleman who instilled team spirit in the team. He was a very popular personality in our cricket team.”

The news was broken to the Australian cricket team at half time during their clash against Holland yesterday.

Ricky Ponting today recounted his shock at hearing the news.

“One of our 12th men actually told us about it,” he said.

“Everyone sort of just stood back in shock there for quite a while. Everybody was immediately saddened by what we’d heard.

“We have played a game of cricket but there have been a lot of bigger things happening around the world and there always is.

“We sometimes get a bit carried away with what we do I guess, in sport. But when something like this happens it certainly rams home there are other things around you all the time happening.”

Opposing captain Luuk van Troost was also shaken by the news, having worked with Woolmer in the past.

“It’s a nightmare. I can’t believe it,” he said.

“He was very human, very approachable. You could talk with him every day, during dinner, always talking to him about cricket. He loved it. It’s terrible.”

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Zac Gelman