Woolmer was under incredible stress: Wife

Published: Monday, March 19, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Bob Woolmer's wife revealed Monday the 'incredible stress' that her husband had been under as coach of Pakistan.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his hotel room in Jamaica on Sunday morning and later pronounced dead.

His death came less than 24 hours after Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup following a shock defeat to Ireland - an experience Woolmer described as one of the worst of his career.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the ex-Warwickshire coach's wife, Gill, revealed the pressures placed on her husband as coach of the cricket-mad Pakistan.

"His job coaching there has been incredibly stressful," she said.

No official cause of death has yet been revealed, with Pakistan's media manager Pervez Mir saying: "We are waiting for medical reports."

But according to reports Monday, the former England batsman suffered from diabetes and had recently experienced breathing difficulties.

Former Kent team-mate and the county's current chairman of cricket Graham Johnson told BBC Radio Five Live: "Bob left a huge legacy before he moved on to the international scene. Nothing can express our words of loss.

"The sad thing is that there was so much more to give."

Johnson believes Woolmer would have relished the chance to coach England. He added: "I'm sure he would have loved to. But he was very realistic and probably felt his best opportunity to do that would have been a few years ago.

"But he would have loved it. He had a huge belief in the ability of the England team."

Former Pakistan spinner Mushtaq Ahmed revealed Woolmer's closeness to his squad means his death has hit them hard.

"He was a great man, a great human being and one of the best I had come across because if his humbleness, he was very close to the guys, had so much passion about the game.

"The guys are still crying and talking about it."

Bob's death silences Pak protests: Meanwhile grief replaced anger on the streets of Pakistan Monday as the country reeled from the death of cricket coach Bob Woolmer a day after the national team's humiliating exit from the World Cup.

On Sunday protesters in the city of Multan had shouted slogans against Woolmer and skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq after Saturday's loss to Ireland, while others in Hyderabad city reportedly held mock burials for the team.

But by Monday supporters had changed their tune and were saying that Woolmer's huge commitment -- and his disappointment about the team's World Cup failure -- may have led to his death in Jamaica at the age of 58.

"Bob Woolmer's death has saddened us. He took the responsibility for the team's defeat very seriously and that led to his death," cricket fan Munir Akhtar Langah told AFP in Multan.

The president of Multan Cricket Club, Maulvi Sultan Alam Ansari, said Woolmer was not responsible for Pakistan's defeats at the World Cup and instead blamed internal politics.

"He was a very good coach and was recognised at international level. He had no role in Pakistan's defeats. He performed his duties with devotion and honesty," Ansari said.

Private television channels meanwhile deleted the vitriolic text messages left by viewers on Sunday before news of Woolmer's death had come through.

"We have deleted all the earlier SMS and public reaction after Woolmer's death," Athar Viqar Azeem, a producer for a sports programme on HUM TV, told.

"Pakistanis are emotional people," said Irfan Ahmed, a cricket fan and a student of University of Karachi's Mass Communication department.

"They were very angry at the weekend and were passing all kinds of SMS messages against Woolmer and Inzy, but they have changed their view within 24 hours," he said.

An earlier SMS message which spread like wildfire here said: "Pakistan cricket has died. Maulana (prayer leader) Inzamam-ul-Haq will lead the funeral prayers after Pakistan's last match on March 21 against Zimbabwe."

Woolmer, a former England batsman, was largely treated with goodwill in this cricket-obsessed Muslim nation of 150 million people despite concerns about having a foreign coach.

However he began to come under fire after Pakistan's notorious forfeit of the Oval Test against England last August, followed by a doping scandal involving fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz led tributes to him on Sunday night, quickly followed by current and former players.

Former captain Javed Miandad, whom Woolmer replaced as coach in 2004, said he believed "Pakistan's shocking defeat against Ireland has a lot to do with his death."

Former Pakistan capitan Asif Iqbal said Woolmer was so committed to the Pakistani team that he could not take the shock of defeat. "He was a very nice and humble person," he told ARY television.

In the city of Lahore, Humaira Waheed, a cricket fan and a teacher for handicapped children, said Woolmer's death "confirms he was committed to the Pakistani cricket team."

"Being a true coach, he could not bear the shameful defeat of his team at the hands of Ireland and, as such, collapsed in his room. However his death has made everyone sad in Pakistan."

Arsalan Rafiq, a medical doctor in Lahore, said "nobody in Pakistan will be happy at his death".

"His services for the Pakistani cricket team will be remembered for a long time," Rafiq said.


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