Tuesday, May 1, 2007
BOB WOOLMER (1948-2007)
Robert Andrew Woolmer (14 May 1948 – 18 March 2007) was an international cricketer, professional cricket coach and also a professional commentator. He played in 19 Test matches and 6 One-day Internationals for England and later coached South Africa, Warwickshire and Pakistan.
Woolmer died in Jamaica, in circumstances investigated as murder, while Early career
Bob Woolmer, who was born in 1948 in the hospital across the road from the cricket ground in Kanpur, India, was the son of Clarence Woolmer, a cricketer who played Ranji Trophy cricket for United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). Woolmer was educated in Kent, first at Yardley Court in Tonbridge and then The Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells. At the age of 15, Colin Page the coach and captain of the Kent second XI converted him from an off-spinner to a medium pace bowler. His first job was as a sales representative for ICI and his first senior cricket was with the Tunbridge Wells club and with Kent's second XI. In 1968, at the age of 20, he joined the Kent staff and he made his championship debut against Essex. His ability to move the ball about at medium-pace was ideally suited to one-day cricket in which form of the game he became a specialist. He won his county cap in 1969. Woolmer began his coaching career in South Africa in 1970-71 at the age of 22 and by 1975, when he made his Test debut, he had become a teacher of physical education at a prep school in Kent as well as running his own cricket school - at the time one of the youngest cricket school owners anywhere.
Bob Woolmer played English county cricket for Kent, initially as an all-rounder. He graduated to Test cricket with England in 1975 again, at first, as an all-rounder, having taken a hat-trick for MCC against the touring Australian cricket team with his fast-medium bowling. But he was dropped after his first Test, only reappearing in the final match of the series at The Oval where he scored 149, batting at number five, then the slowest Test century for England against Australia. Further batting success followed over the next two seasons, including two further centuries against Australia in 1977. Rarely for an Englishman since the Second World War, all his Test centuries were made against Australia.
Woolmer was also a regular in England ODI cricket from 1972 to 1976. But Woolmer's international career stalled after he joined the World Series break-away group run by Kerry Packer. Though he appeared intermittently in the Test team up to 1981, he never recaptured the form of the mid 1970s. He also took part in the South African rebel tours of 1982, a move that effectively ended his international career.
Woolmer obtained his coaching qualification in 1968. After retiring from first-class cricket in 1984, he emigrated to South Africa, where he coached cricket and hockey at high schools. He also became involved in the Avendale Cricket Club in Athlone, Cape Town. He preferred to join a 'coloured' club rather than a 'white' one in apartheid South Africa. He was an inspiration to Avendale and was instrumental in assisting the club to grow and be successful. Because of him, there is still an annual programme for a talented Avendale cricketer to spend a summer at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire. He returned to England in 1987 to coach the second eleven at Kent. He went on to coach the Warwickshire County Cricket Club in 1991, the side winning the Natwest Trophy in 1993, and three out of four trophies contested the next year. He continued his success by leading Warwickshire to Natwest and County Championship success in 1995, before taking on the Post of South African National Coach.
Woolmer is thought to be the only man to witness both Brian Lara's innings of 501 not out vs Durham (1994) and Hanif Mohammed's 499 in Karachi in (1958).
Woolmer was known for his progressive coaching techniques. He is credited with making the reverse sweep a more popular shot for batsmen in the 1990s, as well as being one of the first to use computer analysis, and trying to adapt the knowledge of goalkeepers to wicketkeepers in cricket. He later attracted attention at the 1999 World Cup by communicating with his captain Hansie Cronje with an earpiece during matches. The practice was later banned.
He was appointed coach of South Africa in 1994. Initially his team performed poorly, losing all six matches on his first outing in Pakistan. However, in the next five years, South Africa won most of their test (10 out of 15 series) and One-day International matches (73%). However, the side failed to win either the 1996 World Cup or the 1999 World Cup, despite having the highest ODI success rate among international teams in that period.
At the 1996 tournament on the Indian subcontinent, his team won all their preliminary group matches before succumbing to the West Indies in the quarter finals.
At the 1999 tournament, South Africa faced Australia in the final match of the Super Six round; Australia needed to win to qualify for the semifinals, whereas South Africa had already done so. Australia boasted a superior recent record in must-win matches against South Africa. Media speculation was focused on Woolmer's team being less adept at handling high pressure situations. In the 1997/98 Australian international season, they had lost all four of their qualifying matches in a triangular tournament and conceded a 1-0 finals series lead, before recovering to take the series 2-1. The Super Six match saw Australia win the match in the last over, after Herschelle Gibbs dropped Australian captain Steve Waugh in a premature celebration of a catch. Waugh went on to score an unbeaten century and score the winning runs. The semifinal rematch saw a late Australian comeback culminate in a tie, when with match scores level, South African batsmen Lance Klusener and Allan Donald had a mix up, with Donald dropping his bat and being run out. As a result South Africa were eliminated due to their inferior performance in the earlier matches. and Woolmer resigned.
Woolmer was a strong candidate to replace David Lloyd as coach of England in 1999 but wanted a break from cricket and was reluctant to lead England in a tour of South Africa so soon after having relinquished the South Africa coach job.
He later returned to Warwickshire, and gained attention when he called for the removal of a life ban on South African captain Hansie Cronje for match-fixing. Woolmer spoke openly about Cronje and match fixing in an interview on the BBC TV programme "Panorama" in May 2001 . He then worked for the International Cricket Council in helping with cricket development in countries where the sport was not well established.
He was appointed coach of the Pakistan team in 2004. This came after Javed Miandad was sacked when the Pakistanis conceded a 2-1 Test and 3-2 ODI series loss on home soil to arch rivals India, their first series win there in two decades. He was feted when his team reversed the result in early 2005 on their return tour to India, drawing the Tests 1-1 and winning the ODI series 4-2. However, in early 2006, he helplessly watched Pakistan go down in a 1-4 home ODI series defeat against India.
2006 ball-tampering row
In August 2006, on the eve of Pakistan's Twenty20 international against England in Bristol, Bob Woolmer was forced to defend his reputation when it was claimed South African players lifted the seam of the ball when he was in charge of the team. Former International Cricket Council match referee Barry Jarman alleged that during the 1997 triangular one-day tournament involving South Africa, Zimbabwe and India, a match ball, still in Jarman’s possession, that was confiscated after just 16 overs showed evidence of tampering by Woolmer’s team. Woolmer could not recall any such incident and he denied advocating ball-tampering. He also indicated that he contacted the match officials from that game who also could not recall any such incident.
Woolmer stated in 2006 that he believed that ball-tampering should be allowed in cricket and that a modification to existing laws should be made.
participating in the 2007 Cricket World Cup as the coach of Pakistan.
Death during 2007 World Cup
Main article: Bob Woolmer murder investigation
This article documents a current event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
On 18 March 2007, following Pakistan's unexpected defeat by Ireland in the 2007 Cricket World Cup a day earlier, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. On 22 March, Jamaican police confirmed that a murder investigation has been launched due to the circumstances of Woolmer's death, specifically that he had died of asphyxia. The investigations into the murder of Bob Woolmer, the late Pakistan coach, are reported to have reached a significant breakthrough with a likely suspect being identified through footage from the hotel security camera. According to a report in the UK-based The Independent, detectives from Scotland Yard and a team of 30 officers studied the digitally-enhanced footage and the suspect was understood to be a male, though police were unable to confirm his identity. The cleaned-up images from London show at least one individual of considerable interest to the inquiry, a source close to the investigation told the paper. "The time of the footage and its location mean that this individual must be considered a suspect. Further work is being done on statements given by individuals to look at any inconsistencies. It is good progress."
Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica on March 18, a day after Pakistan's loss to Ireland, and though the cause of death was determined, the authorities had struggled to develop lasting leads in the murder case. On 30 April 2007 it was confirmed that Woolmer had been poisoned before he was strangled, as a toxicology report stated that samples taken from his blood, stomach and urine had shown the presence of a foreign substance.
An inquest into the murder was scheduled for April 23 but had to be postponed owing to 'significant developments' into the case. Twenty witnesses were due to provide evidence but a statement from the Jamaican justice ministry on Thursday said the hearing would be postponed following advice from the coroner.
On April 30, the BBC televison programme Panorama revealed that their investigations indicated that Woolmer had been poisoned by a drug that left him helpless to fight off a combination of strangulation and smothering by assailants.
Awards and Honours
One of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1976.
Posthumously honoured with the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence), a high ranking civil award of Pakistan, for his contribution to Pakistan cricket.
Death of Bob Woolmer
Test / ODIs
Matches 19 / 6
Runs scored 1059 / 21
33.09 / 5.25
100s/50s 3/2 / -/-
Top score 149 / 9
546 / 321
4 / 9
74.75 / 28.88
5 wickets in innings
- / -
10 wickets in match - / n/a
Best bowling 1/8 / 3/33
10/- / 3/-
As of 1 January 2006
at May 01, 2007
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