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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 08:38 GMT
Cricket mourns death of Woolmer
Bob Woolmer
Woolmer began his professional cricket career at Kent
Tributes from the cricketing world have poured in for Pakistan coach and ex-England Test player Bob Woolmer.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his hotel room on Sunday during the World Cup in the West Indies and later died in hospital.

"It's a sad day for the sport and the cricketing fraternity," said ex-West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding.

England captain Michael Vaughan added: "We know how much impact he's had on the game. He will be greatly missed."

The cause of death is not yet known but a heart attack is suspected.

Pakistan exited the World Cup on Saturday after their surprise defeat by Ireland.

Holding added: "This is totally unexpected. I knew he was upset and under intense pressure but no-one could have foreseen this. I send my condolences to his family.

"My first tour was to England and we go back many years as cricketers and friends. I valued his company."

Cricket has lost a fine achiever, an inspiration and a devoted family man

BBC Sport's Alison Mitchell

Woolmer made his Test debut for England against Australia in July 1975 and his coaching career also saw him take charge of South Africa and Warwickshire.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier said: "The passing of Bob Woolmer in Jamaica casts a sad shadow over the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

"Bob was one of the world's greatest coaches and as a player his innings of 149 in the series in 1975, and lasting more than eight hours against Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, demonstrated not only how talented a player Bob was but also his pride in wearing the England sweater.

"But perhaps Bob will be best remembered as one of the world's leading coaches.

"He embraced innovation and was at the forefront of many new developments in the game.

"Everyone at ECB extends our deepest sympathy to Bob's family - we have lost a great friend."

The International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed also expressed his condolences.

"We are greatly saddened by Bob Woolmer's passing," said Speed.

He was a very dear man, he was a great leader and it's an unbelievable tragedy

Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar

"He was a great cricket man. His life was devoted to cricket. He played, coached and commentated on the game all of his life."

Woolmer took over as coach of Pakistan in June 2004 and, until recently, had masterminded an upturn in the country's cricket results.

His contribution for Pakistan has been praised by the country's president Pervez Musharraf and prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

"President Pervez Musharraf and prime minister Shaukat Aziz have expressed heartfelt condolences over the tragic death of Pakistan cricket team coach Bob Woolmer," read a statement.

"In their separate messages, they said that Bob Woolmer had promoted the cause and game of cricket in Pakistan with dedication and single mindedness.

"In their messages to his family they said Bob Woolmer's services to the game will be long remembered by cricket fans."

Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar did not make the squad for the World Cup because of injury.

He added: "It is a huge tragedy. We are not ready to believe this has happened.

"I am completely shattered, and what is going to happen I don't know.

"He was a very dear man, he was a great leader and it's an unbelievable tragedy."

Former Pakistan spinner Mushtaq Ahmed added: "He was a great man, a great human being and one of the best I had come across because of 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."

Woolmer led Warwickshire to three trophies in one season in 1994 under chief executive Dennis Amiss and the pair were also team-mates during their playing days for England.

Cricket has lost a lovely man and one of the top coaches

Woolmer's ex-England team-mate Dennis Amiss

"We became very close in the England side," said Amiss.

"I phoned him earlier this week and he was fine - upset by the results but Bob was phlegmatic, he knew there were some good days and some bad days.

"I remember he used to say: 'all I can do is prepare them, I can't do it for them on the field'.

"He was a great enthusiast, he loved the game. He wanted to learn, he welcomed innovation.

"He was highly respected, one of the greatest coaches the game will ever see.

"Cricket has lost a lovely man and one of the top coaches."

Woolmer brought West Indies captain Brian Lara to Edgbaston during his time in charge at Warwickshire.

Lara was in his prime and scored a mammoth 501 at county level when he and Woolmer joined forces.

"I had a wonderful relationship with Bob at Warwickshire in 1994 and our relationship continued to grow over the years even though we sat in different dressing rooms," said Lara.

"He was a very focused man with a great love for the game but what shone through was the great love he had for players under his charge. Everyone meant something to him."

Former South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald also played under Woolmer at Warwickshire and also for his country.

"He was always a calming influence on the team and if stress took his life away, I find it difficult to believe," said Donald.

"I heard on Sunday that he suffered from diabetes, and that is another thing I wasn't aware of."

He added: "It's pretty devastating. We're talking about a person who was very close to me for the majority of my cricketing career."

Woolmer began his professional cricket career with Kent in 1968 and stayed at the club until 1984.

Bob was a great guy and a really great coach

West Indies legend Clive Lloyd

The Canterbury club's current director of cricket, Graham Johnson, said: "He was a fantastic analyst of the game, he was brilliant as a technical coach and he was a man who was always thinking ahead to help his team be one step ahead.

"People may remember in the 1999 World Cup he got earpieces for the captain and the bowler to keep in touch with him.

"It was outlawed - but that was the man he was. He wanted his team to perform well and to contribute to make them play better."

Woolmer played in 19 Tests for England and led South Africa to the World Cup semi-finals in 1999.

Former Test umpire Dickie Bird said: "He knew the game inside out - that's what made him a magnificent cricket coach. I know for a fact that the Pakistan team thought the world of him."

Ireland ended Pakistan's campaign at the World Cup and their coach Adrian Birrell told BBC Sport: "I spoke to him after the game and he was totally gracious in defeat - he made no excuses and praised Ireland's performance.

"He has made a huge contribution to world cricket."

Clive Lloyd led the West Indies to victory at the World Cup in 1975 and is the manager of the current team.

He said: "Bob was a great guy and a really great coach.

"It's sad that such a tragedy should take place in the World Cup - I feel sad for his family."

Obituary: Bob Woolmer
18 Mar 07 |  Pakistan
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer dies
18 Mar 07 |  Pakistan
Woolmer's career in photos
18 Mar 07 |  Cricket


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