New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who died in the West Indies Sunday, was writing two books, one probably his autobiography that could have disclosed fresh details about the Hansie Cronje match-fixing row.
This book was to be ‘Discovering Cricket’, Bob, as he was popularly known, had told IANS months before his death but he did not want anything to be written about his works. The other book was a coaching manual.
Bob, who died aged 58 years and 308 days in Kingston, had met Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul during Pakistan’s tour of India in 2005 for one of his books that would have touched upon the 2001 Cronje case.
‘I am writing two books, one is called ‘Discovering Cricket’. It is about my experiences with cricket,’ Woolmer had said at the Le Meridian hotel when he was here for the Champions Trophy in October 2006.
Bob, who died a day after Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup, enthusiastically showed the completed chapters of the book, just a day after the Pakistan team had landed in India.
Opening the folders in his laptop, he made me a read a few lines while stressing the highlights of a particular chapter.
‘One run makes a difference,’ Bob read out to me from the coaching manual. ‘Every ball is an event,’ he added, with that trademark smile.
Bob met Paul April 18 in connection with ‘Discovering Cricket’, in which he was to touch upon the match-fixing controversy that badly hit the game in 2001 when he was coach of the South African team touring India.
Officers of Delhi Police, where Paul was then a deputy commissioner of police, had taped South African captain Hansie Cronje’s telephonic conversation with a bookie seeking to allegedly ‘fix’ a One-day International during that series.
Paul confirmed that Bob Woolmer had an ‘informal’ meeting with him.
‘He had come to me to discuss the various details of the match-fixing case, and he was given those. He was quite a nice, matter-of-fact and forthcoming person,’ Paul told IANS Monday.
Cronje was later banned for life and eventually died in a plane crash in South Africa.
Both Bob’s books are yet to be published. Who knows, they may never see the light of the day - unless, of course, his wife decides to go ahead with them and publishes them, though they could be incomplete.
Perhaps, Bob wanted to complete it after the World Cup, which could also have been his last assignment with Pakistan.
A right-handed batsman and medium pacer, the Kanpur-born Bob played 19 Tests and six One-day Internationals for England in 1970s.
He was fiercely passionate about coaching, which he started soon after his international career ended in 1981.
‘I have been coaching for a long time. This is my 20th year as a first-class cricket coach. Since I started in 1968, this is my 38th year in cricket,’ he told IANS, while in his hotel room.
‘More important for me is (that) I enjoy cricket. I love cricket; I have a passion for the game, whether it involves Pakistan or South Africa or Warwickshire it doesn’t matter. That’s the same motivation; the same desire. My desire is to be professional in what I do, as much as I can.’
Bob’s tenure with the Pakistani team, since he became the national coach in 2004, was at best tumultuous. And when Nassem Ashraf replaced Shaharyar Khan as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, experts started predicting the end of Bob’s stint.
Bob learnt of the change at PCB helm after reaching New Delhi, and he was apparently a bit sad that Khan, with whom he had established a special bond, was not there to support him.
‘From a personal point of view, if people don’t want me to coach, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with anyone. I talk about controlling the controllable. This is a psychological statement, but you can only control what you do,’ he had said.
‘If Pakistan said to me that ‘Look, we want someone else to do the coaching’, that’s not a problem with me.’