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Bob's loss hurts more than elimination - Inzamam

Inzamam-ul-Haq said he wanted to forget the traumatic World Cup campaign which saw coach Bob Woolmer murdered and his team knocked out in the first round.

"It's been a tournament which I and millions of Pakistan supporters would like to forget, but it won't be as easy as it looks," Inzamam told AFP by telephone from Montego Bay where the Pakistan team is staying before they leave for home later Saturday. Pakistan lost their opening match to the West Indies by 54 runs before suffering the ignominy of a three-wicket defeat at the hands of debutants Ireland to crash out of the World Cup.

The following day, Woolmer died and his death has since become the subject of a murder investigation. The Pakistan team were first finger-printed and then had to provide DNA samples. Inzamam, who also announced his retirement from one-day cricket and relinquished the captaincy of the national team, said the suffering had become unbearable.

"We failed to reach the second round and lost a great mentor who was also an inspirational figure in the dressing-room. I feel Bob's loss much more than our elimination. My heart goes out to his family and I want to assure them on behalf of the team and entire nation that in this tough time we are right behind them. I will leave the Caribbean for the last time (as a player) with a very heavy heart."

Inzamam said the team was in a good frame of mind when they came to the Caribbean despite a poor build-up during which they lost key fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif due to fitness problems. "When I landed here, I had high hopes but things changed and became so tragic that we are still struggling to cope with them. Most of the guys are still in a state of shock and when I try to talk to them, I can see their blank faces. They are physically with me but not mentally."

Inzamam, second behind Sachin Tendulkar on the all-time one-day run list with 11,739 runs in 378 internationals, said his team was still a good side despite their early elimination. "I still believe my team was good enough but we just couldn't click. I am disappointed that we failed to live up to our supporters' expectations and also for Bob who gave his heart and soul throughout his three years as coach, hoping that we could fulfill his dream of winning the World Cup."

I haven't had a chance to think about my future because events have happened so fast. But looking back at my career, I think every match that I played was worth it. I had tough times but it came in the package, I guess. I had the honour of representing Pakistan for 16 years, the privilege of playing against some of the greatest players...

Inzamam believes Pakistan cricket can recover from the World Cup trauma. "Pakistan cricket is strong and I don't believe it is in a crisis. In fact, I believe we will get stronger from here because we have good cricketing brains to put everything back on track and we have exceptionally talented players. The current Pakistan team has all the ingredients to beat any team in the world. It's just a matter of getting our act together. Over the years, Pakistan cricket has faced several crises and every time the team has come out of it successfully. That's the beauty of Pakistan cricket."

Inzamam said he hadn't yet made plans after retirement. "I haven't had a chance to think about my future because events have happened so fast. But looking back at my career, I think every match that I played was worth it. I had tough times but it came in the package, I guess. I had the honour of representing Pakistan for 16 years, the privilege of playing against some of the greatest players, being part of the 1992 World Cup squad and most importantly the respect and appreciation of the people. I couldn't have asked for more."

Inzamam also backed the organisers to continue with the World Cup despite Woolmer's death. "The World Cup is a great event and should go on despite the tragedy because we cannot allow this sport to be held to ransom by anybody. Bob would have wanted his event to be a huge success and let's make him happy by supporting the competition."

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