Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer heads to the Caribbean hoping to be third time lucky after twice agonisingly missing out on World Cup glory.
A former England batsman, Woolmer was South Africa’s coach in the 1996 World Cup in the sub-continent when a quarter-final defeat at the hands of the West Indies shattered his dreams.
Three years later in England, his talented South African side were in tears after they tied their epic semifinal against eventual champions Australia and bowed out on inferior net run-rate. Woolmer has not forgotten those setbacks.
“It is always disappointing as a team not to achieve the ultimate goal, but it was not for the lack of trying. Cricket is a game where anything can happen and nothing should ever be taken as granted,” said Woolmer.
A two-year stint as International Cricket Council’s (ICCs) High Performance Manager allowed Woolmer to work with fledgling cricketing nations, like Kenya, Namibia and the Netherlands during the 2003 World Cup.
Fate brought him to Pakistan in 2004 as coach, regarded the country’s hottest post which had seen five changes since 1999 until his arrival. He forged a strong relationship with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and saw to it that the skilful cricketers always remained strong in basics.
Woolmer believes Pakistan have been moving in the right direction in their preparations for the World Cup. “There is completely different dynamics with the Pakistan team from that of South Africa. I have enjoyed coaching them and if they play up to their potential they have a great chance to win the ultimate prize,” said Woolmer.
Former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja said Woolmer had done a reasonably good job. “I would not say that everything is perfect with Pakistan’s team. There are still some problems, but I guess Bob is a facilitator. He is not going to bat or bowl in the middle. He is there to identify talent and make a strategy,” said Rameez.
“There are positives that Pakistan are number three in both the Tests and one-day rankings. I hope Woolmer will finish with a bang at the World Cup,” Rameez added. Born in the Indian city of Kanpur in 1948, Woolmer played 19 Tests for England in 1970s but missed the inaugural World Cup in 1975 due to injury.
“I broke my left hand so I was left to do the 12th man duties,” recalled Woolmer, whose career ended prematurely as he first joined Kerry Packer World Series Cricket and then went on rebel tours to South Africa in 1980s.
He steadily developed into a renowned coach, who is credited with pioneering the use of computers in cricket. His creative and adventurous ways helped South Africa become a formidable team which started the 1996 World Cup as one of the favourites.
“We had a good plan in 1996, but were undone by a great performance by (century-maker) Brian Lara in the quarter-final,” said Woolmer, under whom South Africa won the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998 and were hot favourites for the 1999 World Cup.
“It was cruel to lose by a run-rate of 0.01 which was the closest of margins. It was very depressing for the team, but (skipper) Hansie Cronje rallied the troops saying that they should be proud of their achievement,” he remarked. The 58-year-old now gets another chance to scale the summit —- and bury the past.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, March 9th, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.
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