1948-2007: Bob Woolmer Dies of Heart Attack

Posted on March 18, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Sports
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Adil Najam

Robert (Bob) Andrew Woolmer, most recently the Head Coach for the Pakistan cricket team died of a massive heart attack in Jamaica earlier today. He was born on May 14, 1948, in Kanpur India, played 19 tests and 6 one day internationals for England and was amongst the first in a generation of ‘super coaches’ in international cricket.

His tenure as Pakistan’s cricket coach was a particularly tumultuous one, especially recently. Its lowest point was yesterday when Pakistan – under his coaching – lost miserably to Ireland. This was a massive blow for the Pakistan team, people and obviously for Bob Woolmer. The massive heart attack he suffered today ultimately took his life.

According to BBC News:

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has died after being discovered in his Jamaica hotel room on Sunday morning. The 58-year-old former South Africa coach, who played for England between 1975-81, was found unconscious at the Pegasus Hotel at 1045 local time.

He was taken to the emergency ward of the nearby University hospital but did not regain consciousness. Pakistan were eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday after losing by three wickets to minnows Ireland. Woolmer told BBC Radio Five Live after the Ireland match that he was considering his future in the game.

“My contract runs out on 30 June anyway but I want to sleep on it before I make a decision about my future,” he said on Saturday evening. “I have said I am reluctant to continue in international cricket purely because of all the travelling but I will stay in cricket at a different level. “But I think the decision has been made for me really. I will talk to the PCB and if they want me to stay until 30 June I will stay, if they want me to go I will go.

“I am not going to break my contract but if the PCB want to get rid of me that is their business.” Pakistan’s preparations for the World Cup have been far from ideal, which Woolmer also alluded to. Following the infamous forfeited Test against England at The Oval last summer, two of their leading fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, were suspended after failing doping tests.

A great loss to cricket. The pair later saw those bans rescinded but missed the World Cup because of injury, something Woolmer admitted had hindered the team. “There are a number of extenuating circumstances in the last six months that have made coaching Pakistan slightly different to normal sides,” he said. “Those are the things I would have to consider and those things would have to change if I was to continue.”

According to an Associated Press report on reaction in Pakistan:

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Naseem Ashraf said Bob Woolmer’s death was a “a loss for the cricketing world.” “He was a thorough gentleman who instilled team spirit in the team,” Ashraf told Pakistani private channel Geo Television. “He was a very popular personality in our cricket team.”

Ashraf said Woolmer had informed him that he had breathing problems during sleep at night and was also diabetic. “He informed me this just before the team departed for the West Indies and I told him ‘take care of yourself Bob’,” Ashraf said. “But Woolmer told me it was nothing new for him as he wore mask during sleeping.” Ashraf said that when he spent some days in Jamaica with the team, he thought Woolmer was perfectly alright.

“I am very sad and I think he took stress after Pakistan lost to Ireland,” said former test cricketer Hanif Mohammad. Pakistan’s injured fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who was sidelined for the World Cup, described Woolmer’s death as a “big tragedy.” “I am very sad,” Akhtar told Geo television. “It’s a very big tragedy and I am completely in a shock.

“Before leaving for the West Indies, we met each other, we both hugged each other and we shared lots of thoughts. “He used to call me ‘Son.’ My whole sympathies are with his family.” Akhtar, under a doping cloud after testing positive for nandrolone last year, has long struggled with how to manage his express pace and avoid injuries. “I have learnt a lot from him. He tried his best to coach us professionally,” Akhtar said. “He was very fun-loving and I can’t believe he could pass like that.”

Former coach Javed Miandad, Woolmer’s immediate predecessor as coach, said that the former England test batsman tried his best for the Pakistan team. “It’s shocking news and I am very sad too,” Miandad said. “I have played cricket with him in the Kerry Packer era and when he took over I hosted him at home and informed him about the Pakistan team.”

121 responses to “1948-2007: Bob Woolmer Dies of Heart Attack”

  1. […] Someone sent me these lines that pay a befitting tribute to Bob Woolmer, the dedicated coach of Pakistan’s cricket team who died last week. […]

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