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Fallout continues after Woolmer’s death

Reporter: TelePk.Com

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the latest on the sudden death of Pakistani cricket coach, Bob Woolmer.


It’s unclear exactly what caused his death in the Jamaican capital but those who knew him say he wasn’t the fittest man around.

And the wild street protests in Pakistan, and the burning of effigies of players and officials after the team’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Ireland, leave no doubt as to the pressure he must have been under.

Now the team’s captain has also announced his retirement from one-day cricket.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: Bob Woolmer’s sudden death came less than 24 hours after Pakistan was shunted out of the Cricket World Cup in a shock defeat to Ireland.

Just yesterday he was telling the BBC he was considering quitting international cricket in the wake of the loss.

BOB WOOLMER: I have said that I’m reluctant to continue in international cricket, purely from the travelling and so on and so forth, but I will still be coaching at a different level really.

But I think the decision has probably been made for me.

JANE COWAN: He’d told reporters he was going to sleep on his future.

But within hours Bob Woolmer was found slumped on the floor of his hotel room, reportedly discovered by a cleaning lady.

H. G. HELPS: It’s a situation of real gloom here and I’m not sure how badly this will affect the World Cup, but I’m sure it has.

JANE COWAN: H. G. Helps is the sports editor at CVM TV in Kingston.

He says Bob Woolmer’s death has thrust a gloomy mood across the World Cup and the Jamaican capital, where the Pakistan team is loved.

He says police have been moving in and out Bob Woolmer’s room at the Pegasus Hotel in the heart of the city, but so far there are few answers.

H. G. HELPS: Police, they aren’t saying much, if anything at all. They’ll greet you with “no comment”, a flat “no comment” and “investigations are ongoing”.

JANE COWAN: Bob Woolmer’s death has been felt at the highest levels, with the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf calling it tragic.

Pakistan team spokesman P. J. Mir says Bob Woolmer was a popular coach.

P. J. MIR: His mood was fine. Of course he was disappointed that we lost to Ireland.

And you know, there’s no question of that, I mean his disappointment was there but he was fine. I mean, otherwise you know he was his usual self.

He had a tremendous rapport with the Pakistan cricket players. He had a tremendous rapport with everybody.

JANE COWAN: The team’s media manager said the former England test batsman suffered from a medical condition but was unable to confirm whether it had caused his death.

There is no doubt cricket can be a stark and cruel game, especially in Pakistan where the team’s humiliating defeat by Ireland triggered nothing short of national fury - effigies of players and officials were burnt in several cities.

Max Walker who played against Bob Woolmer says the game cost him one marriage and takes a special sort of courage.

MAX WALKER: I never toured Pakistan, but you know, from arm’s length you look at the Darrell Hair scenario in England, and Inzamam-ul-Haq and not coming back onto the ground to forfeit there.

You had a couple of their fast bowlers that are not in the West Indies at the moment, Shoaib Akhtar. It’s tumultuous, it’s a rollercoaster ride, the emotion, and you know, sheer outcries of lack of performance by their team in the West Indies at the moment.

It would have to play on your mind.

TONY GREIG: Well, he would have been under a lot of pressure in Pakistan. I’ve spoken to him on numerous occasions about it.

JANE COWAN: Tony Greig sat on the committee that selected Bob Woolmer to play for England when he first started playing test cricket

He says his friend struggled with constantly living out of hotel rooms.

TONY GREIG: Bob I think, suffered a fair bit from being away from his family. He also recently, by the way, put on a fair bit of weight and I’m not too sure whether that had anything to do with his health not being too good.

JANE COWAN: It’s true that Bob Woolmer didn’t cut the streamlined figure of other coaches.

Cricket writer and broadcaster Peter Roebuck knew Bob Woolmer personally.

PETER ROEBUCK: He perhaps wasn’t the healthiest of men at 58, overweight and so on and so forth. And that probably too was a reflection of his affability and soft nature.

JANE COWAN: Pakistan still has another group match to play at the World Cup against Zimbabwe on Wednesday night.

After that the players have to go on without their coach and their captain.

ELEANOR HALL: Jane Cowan reporting.

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