Bob Woolmer bigraphy, stories - international cricketer, professional cricket coach and commentator

Bob Woolmer : biography

14 May 1948 - 18 March 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.

On 18 March 2007, Woolmer died suddenly in Jamaica, just a few hours after the Pakistan team's unexpected elimination at the hands of Ireland in the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Shortly afterwards, Jamaican police announced that they were opening a murder investigation into Woolmer's death. In November 2007, a jury in Jamaica recorded an open verdict on Woolmer's death, after deciding that there was insufficient evidence of either a criminal act or natural causes.http://www.cricinfo.com/woolmer/content/story/322709.html

Coaching career

Woolmer obtained his coaching qualification in 1968.

In South Africa

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.

In England

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 against Durham in 1994 and Hanif Mohammad's 499 in Karachi in 1958.Wisden 1995, p. 17.

Coaching methods

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.

South Africa

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, Australia had lost all four of their qualifying matches against South Africa 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.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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