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April 1, 2007
Pakistani players and dignitaries attended a memorial service in Lahore for Bob Woolmer on Sunday.
Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq led a contingent of seven players among the 400 mourners at the 100-year-old Sacred Heart Church in Lahore while officials lit candles and laid floral wreaths at a portrait of the late coach.
Inzamam, accompanied by team-mates Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal, said Woolmer was an "excellent coach and above all things was an excellent human being."
"After Woolmer's family, the Pakistan team was the most aggrieved by his death," AFP quoted Inzamam as saying during the hour-long service.
Archbishop of Lahore Reverend Lawrence Saldanha said Woolmer was like a "second father" to his players. "We pay tribute to his excellent qualities. He was known for his passionate interest in cricket. We salute him for his professional competency, as well as his sense of responsibility and commitment," Saldanha said. "He was also a kind and gentle person who won the hearts of his players who looked up to him as a second father."
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf described Woolmer's death "a terrible tragedy" and said that he was a "rock of stability" who lived for cricket and loved the sport. "He was internationally known and was the first modern coach of cricket. The world will follow his method and teachings."
He remembered Woolmer as a man of simple tastes, choosing to live in a room at the National Cricket Academy rather than a five-star hotel, who developed a taste for Pakistani food and movies and understood some Urdu. "He would go to food street (a restaurant area of Lahore) and watch Pakistani movies and he once told me that the boys do not know that I understand half of their jokes."
Ashraf lit candles and along with Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool laid wreaths on behalf of President Pervez Musharraf around Woolmer's portrait, which was decorated with red roses and yellow marigold. "Muslims and Christian citizens gathered here at the Sacred Heart Church over the sorrowful death of coach Bob Woolmer and all prayed for the departed soul," Maqbool said. "Defeat and victory is part of the game. The disappointment of Pakistani cricket team is just for the time being. It will soon emerge as as one of the greatest cricket teams of the world."
Experts from Britain's Scotland Yard and a couple of senior Pakistani police officers are assisting the Jamaican police in investigating Woolmer's murder.
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