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'A sad day for world cricket'
March 20, 2007 01:40 IST
March 18, 2007 was a sad day for cricket. Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer died in a Jamaica hospital after being found unconscious in his hotel room the morning after his side's shock defeat to minnows Ireland, that ended their chances of progressing in the World Cup.
The former England batsman was made coach of Pakistan in June 2004, before which he had a successful tenure as coach of South Africa and English county Warwickshire. Before turning to coaching, Woolmer played 19 Tests and six one-dayers for England during the 1970s.
Former India wicketkeeper and chairman of selectors, Kiran More, pays tribute to the cricketing legend.
'It was a sad day because he still had a lot to offer to the world of cricket,' he told Special Correspondent Harish Kotian.
Firstly, give us your reactions on Woolmer's death?
I think it was very shocking. I think what happened yesterday was a very big loss to world cricket considering what Bob Woolmer has given to international cricket. He was one of the top most coaches.
It was very shocking news which I heard last night that he died in a hospital after collapsing in his hotel room. He was unconscious and taken to hospital, where he was declared dead. It was a very, very sad day for cricket overall.
I had a few interactions with Woolmer, when he toured India with the South African team long time back, when Hansie Cronje was there. The amount of things he has changed in international cricket with his coaching style it has done wonders for all cricketers.
Describe any interactions or meetings you had with Woolmer? When was the last time you met him?
I remember meeting him in Jaipur [during the Champions Trophy last year]. I still remember we were sitting in a bar. Bob's wife was there along with [Indian coach] Greg Chappell, his wife Judy and Ian Fraser [Indian team's bio-mechanist].
We were discussing about the Indian and Pakistan cricket, the cultures and how to deal with the players. He [Bob] had come out with a lot of points and how he tackles the Pakistani cricketers. He sounded like a fatherly figure for the Pakistani team giving a lot of advice to the youngsters. He would try to learn and try to pick up a lot of things on what Pakistan cricketers needed. So it was a great interaction last time when I met him.
I know Bob very well since a long time. I had invited him and the whole South African team for dinner at my place. They all came and they had a great time and we discussed a lot of cricket that time.
It is always great to interact with such a great coach. He was instrumental in South African cricket; he brought their team to the top and did wonders for them.
He came to Pakistan and was with them for the last three years. Pakistan has gone through a lot in the last 7-8 months; a lot of scandals have taken place. Bob always stuck with his players and always encouraged. He never came out with any negative statement about Pakistan team or Pakistan players so that shows his character.
He has done a wonderful job with the Pakistan team and has set an example for a lot of youngsters.
According to a London newspaper Woolmer was suspected to have died of an "overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol. Do you feel stress could be one of the reasons for Woolmer's death?
I think there is a lot of stress when you are looking after a high-profile team like Pakistan. They went through a lot of controversies in the last 5-6 months and that put a lot of pressure on him. The media had come out with a lot of thing regarding Shoaib Akhtar and the doping scandal.
After the last loss against Ireland which put Pakistan out of the World Cup, it always affects as the person a coach and as an individual if your team doesn't do well. It must have been a huge setback for him. It was the biggest failure in his coaching career.
You had a close working relation with Indian coach Greg Chappell during your term as the national selector. Did you feel at times that he also felt the extra pressure and stress, especially when the team is not doing well?
Greg doesn't show any emotion, whether you win or loss. He has always been like that. If you look at his face, he doesn't laugh, he is always there. He always gives full credit to the team and to the players all the time. And that is what Bob Woolmer also used to.
They are both matured cricketers and they have been in this business for a long time. They have been professional in their cricketing career, so they know how to react to situations.
There is always pressure when you are taking up any job, whether as a coach or any office job. Your boss always wants you to deliver 100 per cent. So the pressure is always there, but they take up this job because it is a great challenge too.
I think it was a sad day because I feel he still had a lot to offer to the world of cricket.
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