Pakistan cricket March 18, 2008

One year on, Inzamam remembers Woolmer

Inzamam: "I want to forget the tragedies of the World Cup, but I can never forget Bob" © AFP

Twelve months after the death of Bob Woolmer, former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has admitted that he will never forget the inspirational coach.

"Pakistan cricket will always be indebted to Bob Woolmer for his contribution to the game," Inzamam told AFP. "I want to forget the tragedies of the World Cup, but I can never forget Bob. He was not only an excellent coach, but also a very good human being."

Woolmer, who had also coached South Africa, was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica on March 18, 2007, just a day after Pakistan had been sensationally knocked out of the World Cup following a shock defeat to Ireland. The tragedy was initially treated as murder but after the biggest manhunt in Jamaican history and following months of wild speculation, an inquest jury in October eventually returned an open verdict on Woolmer's death.

Inzamam was so shattered by the events that he quit one-day cricket in tears immediately after Pakistan's last game in the World Cup.

"He [Woolmer] was helpful to all and very accommodating. He always thought about the team and saw to it that we kept improving," said Inzamam, who also quit Test cricket in October last year. "After the defeat to Ireland we were all depressed but Bob was trying to console everyone and was trying to convince us that it was just a bad day and things would improve for the team.

"He asked me what were my plans. I told him that my mind was not working and we would talk the following day, but that opportunity never came and we got the shocking news of his death."

Mushtaq Ahmed, the former legspinner, said Woolmer was an inspiration for all those he coached. "Bob was successful at county level where he coached Warwickshire, then lifted South Africa and was hoping to build Pakistan into a great team before he met a cruel fate."

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has dedicated their indoor cricket school to Woolmer, which was inaugurated by both the Pakistan and South African teams. "Bob will be remembered in Pakistan cricket and hopefully his legacy will continue," said PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf. "His memory is still fresh because his contribution to Pakistan cricket was immense."

Both Inzamam and Mushtaq said they were willing to help at Woolmer's academy in South Africa. "I feel for his family because they are the real sufferers. Whenever they need me to coach at Bob's academy, I will be more than willing to go," said Inzamam. "Perhaps through this we can pay back for what he did for Pakistan."