ICC President Percy Sonn Pays Tribute to Bob Woolmer
“ICC and cricket owes him huge debt for his development role”
ICC President Percy Sonn today led the tributes from the organization to Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who passed away in Kingston, Jamaica on Sunday, aged 58.
“On behalf of the ICC I would like to express my shock and sadness at this terrible news. My thoughts are with Bob’s wife and family at this time,” he said.
“I knew Bob for many years through our roles within cricket in South Africa and it is difficult to think of a man who was more committed to the betterment of the sport than him.
“He combined a detailed technical knowledge of the game with a free-thinking approach and he was always one prepared to push the envelope and experiment to see if things could be done better.
“Bob was an outstanding human being who loved the game and always tried to instill that love and passion for our great sport into anyone he came into contact with. He will be sorely missed.
“From an ICC perspective, we owe Bob a huge debt of thanks as he played a pivotal role in the development of cricket below ICC Full Member level as the organisation’s first High Performance Manager (HPM).
“Bob was a passionate advocate of spreading the game as widely as possible and giving every one of our Members whatever building blocks they needed to be the best they could be.
“The continuing growth and improving standards of play among the top Associates that we have seen over the past few years are a fitting tribute to Bob’s work for the ICC.”
Mr Woolmer began his role as ICC HPM in October 2001 on an 18-month contract, working with the four Associate sides set to take part in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, Canada, Kenya, Namibia and the Netherlands.
He was so successful that he continued in his role after the tournament with two more countries, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates, added to the mix and he helped to put together the first-class tournament for the top Associates, the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
“That tournament began in 2004, just before Bob left to take up the job of Pakistan coach, and there is no doubt it has played a key role in improving standards among the second tier of cricketing nations,” added Mr Sonn.
Mr Woolmer played first-class cricket for Kent in the United Kingdom and Western Province and Natal in South Africa, as well as 19 Test matches and six ODIs for England.
A cultured right-handed batsman, handy medium-pace bowler and specialist short leg fieldsman, he scored 15,772 first-class runs including 29 hundreds, as well as taking 420 wickets and 239 catches.
At the highest level he scored 1059 Test runs with three hundreds, all of them made against Australia. His maiden Test hundred was also his highest score in that form of the game, 149 at The Oval in 1975, and he made successive hundreds in the first two matches of the 1977 Ashes series, at Lord’s and Old Trafford.
Mr Woolmer was among the players that joined World Series Cricket in Australia in 1977 and also toured South Africa with an unofficial squad captained by Graham Gooch in 1982, effectively ending his international career.
He coached South Africa in two ICC Cricket World Cups, in 1996 in the Asian sub-continent (when it was beaten in the quarter-final by the West Indies) and 1999 in the UK (when it was eliminated following a tied semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston). His coaching at domestic level included work with county side Warwickshire in England, and he helped it to three of the four domestic titles on offer in 1994.
As a mark of respect for Bob Woolmer, each of the teams in the ICC Cricket World Cup will be asked to wear black armbands in their next matches, starting with Monday’s games between India and Bermuda, and the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Both tomorrow’s venues hosting matches, Sabina Park and the Queen’s Park Oval, will be asked to have their flags at half-mast and there will be a minute’s silence before the start of both games.
These measures will be repeated at Pakistan’s final match in the tournament, against Zimbabwe, also at Sabina Park, on Wednesday.