Bob Woolmer

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Bob Woolmer
Bob Woolmer.JPG
Woolmer in December 1999
Personal information
Full nameRobert Andrew Woolmer
Born(1948-05-14)14 May 1948
Kanpur, United Province, Dominion of India
Died18 March 2007(2007-03-18) (aged 58)
Kingston, Jamaica
NicknameWoollie, The-Bob
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
BowlingRight-arm medium
Role All-rounder, coach
International information
National side
Test debut (cap  463)31 July 1975 v  Australia
Last Test2 July 1981 v  Australia
ODI debut (cap  16)24 August 1972 v  Australia
Last ODI28 August 1976 v  West Indies
Domestic team information
1968–1984 Kent
1981–1982 Western Province
1973–1976 Natal
Career statistics
Competition Tests ODI FC LA
Runs scored1,0592115,7724,078
Batting average 33.095.2533.5520.39
Top score1499203112*
Balls bowled54632125,82313,473
Wickets 49420374
Bowling average 74.7528.8825.8720.64
5 wickets in innings 00123
10 wickets in match0010
Best bowling1/83/337/476/9
Catches/stumpings 10/–3/–239/198/–
Source:, 22 August 2007

Robert Andrew Woolmer (14 May 1948 – 18 March 2007) was an English cricket coach, cricketer, and a commentator. He played in 19 Test matches and six One Day Internationals for England and later coached South Africa, Warwickshire and Pakistan.

Test cricket the longest form of the sport of cricket; so called due to its long, grueling nature

Test cricket is the longest form of the sport of cricket and is considered its highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams with "Test status", as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of teams' playing ability and endurance. The name Test stems from the long, gruelling match being both mentally and physically testing.

One Day International form of limited overs cricket; each team faces a fixed number of overs, usually 50

A One Day International (ODI) is a form of limited overs cricket, played between two teams with international status, in which each team faces a fixed number of overs, usually 50. The Cricket World Cup is played in this format, which is generally held every four years. One Day International matches are also called Limited Overs Internationals (LOI), although this generic term may also refer to Twenty20 International matches. They are major matches and considered the highest standard of List A, limited overs competition.

England cricket team Sports team

The England cricket team represents England and Wales in international cricket. Since 1997 it has been governed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), having been previously governed by Marylebone Cricket Club from 1903 until the end of 1996. England, as a founding nation, is a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) with Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) status. Until the 1990s, Scottish and Irish players also played for England as those countries were not yet ICC members in their own right.


On 18 March 2007, Woolmer died suddenly in Jamaica, just a few hours after the Pakistan team's unexpected elimination at the hands of Ireland in the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Shortly afterwards, Jamaican police announced that they were opening a murder investigation into Woolmer's death. In November 2007, a jury in Jamaica recorded an open verdict on Woolmer's death, concluded that Woolmer died of Natural causes. [1]

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

2007 Cricket World Cup Cricket World Cup

The 2007 Cricket World Cup was the 9th edition of the Cricket World Cup tournament that took place in the West Indies from 13 March to 28 April 2007, using the sport's One Day International (ODI) format. There were a total of 51 matches played, three fewer than at the 2003 World Cup.

Early life

Woolmer was born in the Georgina McRobert Memorial Hospital across the road from the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, [2] India on 14 May 1948. His father was the cricketer Clarence Woolmer, who represented United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) in the Ranji Trophy. At the age of 10, Woolmer witnessed Hanif Mohammad scoring 499, and thereby setting a world record for the highest score in first-class cricket. [3] Some 35 years later, Woolmer, as coach of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, was watching when the county's batsman Brian Lara passed that mark, setting a new record of 501 not out. [3]

Green Park Stadium building in India

Green Park Stadium is a 40,000 capacity floodlit cricket stadium located in Kanpur, India, and home to the Uttar Pradesh cricket team. The stadium is under the control of the Sports Department Uttar Pradesh. It is the only international cricket stadium in Uttar Pradesh that has regularly hosted international cricket matches in both Test and One Day format. The stadium hosted the 500th test played by the Indian team. It also organized four Vivo IPL matches, on 19 and 21 May 2016 and 10 and 13 May 2017. As of 19 August 2017 it has hosted 22 Tests, 14 ODIs and one T20I.

Kanpur Metropolis in Uttar Pradesh, India

Kanpur is the 11th most populous urban agglomeration in India, largest urban agglomeration in Uttar Pradesh, 12th most populous city in India, and the most populous metropolis in Uttar Pradesh. The city is the administrative headquarters of Kanpur Nagar district and Kanpur division.

Clarence Shirley Woolmer was a former English cricketer. He was captain of United Provinces during the Ranji Trophy in 1948-1949 against Bombay State (Maharashtra).

Woolmer went to school in Kent, first at Yardley Court in Tonbridge and then The Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells. When he was 15, Colin Page, the coach and captain of the Kent second XI, converted him from an off-spinner to a medium pace bowler.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Yardley Court is an independent day preparatory school for boys in Tonbridge, Kent, England, founded in 1898 by Arthur Bickmore and his wife Lillian. It is a public school in the British sense of the term.

Tonbridge market town in Kent, England

Tonbridge is a market town in Kent, England, on the River Medway, 4 miles (6 km) north of Royal Tunbridge Wells, 12 miles (19 km) south west of Maidstone and 29 miles (47 km) south east of London. In the administrative borough of Tonbridge and Malling, it had a population of 40,356 in 2015.

Woolmer's first job was as a sales representative for ICI, and his first senior cricket was with the Tunbridge Wells club and with Kent's second XI. In 1967 he broke the Kentish Leagues' Bat and Trap record for most consecutive strikes between the white posts: 13 in one game.

Imperial Chemical Industries company

Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) was a British chemical company and was, for much of its history, the largest manufacturer in Britain. It was formed by the merger of leading British chemical companies in 1926. Its headquarters were at Millbank in London, and it was a constituent of the FT 30 and later the FTSE 100 indices.

Royal Tunbridge Wells town in Kent, England

Royal Tunbridge Wells, previously just Tunbridge Wells, is a town in western Kent, England, 30 miles (48 km) south-east of central London, close to the border with East Sussex upon the northern edge of the High Weald, whose sandstone geology is exemplified by the rock formations at the Wellington Rocks and High Rocks.

Selection for Kent

In 1968, at the age of 20, Woolmer joined the Kent cricket staff and made his championship debut against Essex. His ability to move the ball about at medium-pace was ideally suited to one-day cricket at which he became a specialist. He won his county cap in 1969. Woolmer began his coaching career in South Africa in 1970–71 at the age of 22 and by 1975, when he made his Test debut, he had become a teacher of physical education at a prep school in Kent as well as running his own cricket school – at the time one of the youngest cricket school owners anywhere.

Physical education educational course related to the physique of the human body

Physical education, also known as Phys Ed., PE, gym, or gym class, and known in many Commonwealth countries as physical training or PT, is an educational course related of maintaining the human body through physical exercises. It is taken during primary and secondary education and encourages psychomotor learning in a play or movement exploration setting to promote health.

Playing career

Bob Woolmer played English county cricket for Kent, initially as an all-rounder. He graduated to Test cricket with England in 1975 again, at first, as an all-rounder, having taken a hat-trick for MCC against the touring Australian cricket team with his fast-medium bowling. But he was dropped after his first Test, only reappearing in the final match of the series at The Oval where he scored 149, batting at number five, then the slowest Test century for England against Australia. [4] Further batting success followed over the next two seasons, including two further centuries against Australia in 1977. Rarely for an Englishman since the Second World War, all his Test centuries were made against Australia.

Woolmer was also a regular in England ODI cricket from 1972 to 1976. But Woolmer's international career stalled after he joined the World Series break-away group run by Kerry Packer. Though he appeared intermittently in the Test team up to 1981, he never recaptured the form of the mid 1970s. He also took part in the South African rebel tours of 1982, a move that effectively ended his international career. [5]

Coaching career

Woolmer obtained his coaching qualification in 1968. [6]

In South Africa

After retiring from first-class cricket in 1984, he emigrated to South Africa, where he coached cricket and hockey at high schools. He also became involved in the Avendale Cricket Club in Athlone, Cape Town. He preferred to join a 'coloured' club rather than a 'white' one in apartheid South Africa. He was an inspiration to Avendale and was instrumental in assisting the club to grow and be successful. Because of him, there is still an annual programme for a talented Avendale cricketer to spend a summer at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire. [7]

In England

He returned to England in 1987 to coach the second eleven at Kent. [6] He went on to coach the Warwickshire County Cricket Club in 1991, the side winning the Natwest Trophy in 1993, and three out of four trophies contested the next year. He continued his success by leading Warwickshire to Natwest and County Championship success in 1995, before taking on the Post of South African National Coach.

Woolmer is thought to be the only man to have witnessed both Brian Lara's innings of 501 not out against Durham in 1994 and Hanif Mohammad's 499 in Karachi in 1958. [8]

Coaching methods

Woolmer was known for his progressive coaching techniques. He is credited with having made the reverse sweep a more popular shot for batsmen in the 1990s, [9] [10] as well as being one of the first to use computer analysis, and trying to adapt the knowledge of goalkeepers to wicketkeepers in cricket. [11] He later attracted attention at the 1999 World Cup by communicating with his captain Hansie Cronje with an earpiece during matches. The practice was later banned.

South Africa

He was appointed coach of South Africa in 1994. Initially his team performed poorly, losing all six matches on his first outing in Pakistan. [11] However, in the next five years, South Africa won most of their Test (10 out of 15 series) and One Day International matches (73%). [7] However, the side failed to win either the 1996 World Cup or the 1999 World Cup, despite having the highest ODI success rate among international teams in that period.

At the 1996 tournament on the Indian subcontinent, his team won all their preliminary group matches before succumbing to the West Indies in the quarter finals.

At the 1999 tournament, South Africa faced Australia in the final match of the Super Six round; Australia needed to win to qualify for the semifinals, whereas South Africa had already done so. Australia boasted a superior recent record in must-win matches against South Africa. Media speculation was focused on Woolmer's team being less adept at handling high pressure situations. In the 1997/98 Australian international season, Australia had lost all four of their qualifying matches against South Africa in a triangular tournament and conceded a 1–0 finals series lead, before recovering to take the series 2–1. The Super Six match saw Australia win the match in the last over, after Herschelle Gibbs dropped Australian captain Steve Waugh in a premature celebration of a catch. Waugh went on to score an unbeaten century and score the winning runs. The semifinal rematch saw a late Australian comeback culminate in a tie, when with match scores level, South African batsmen Lance Klusener and Allan Donald had a mix up, with Donald dropping his bat and being run out. As a result, South Africa were eliminated due to their inferior performance in the earlier matches. [12] and Woolmer resigned.

Woolmer was a strong candidate to replace David Lloyd as coach of England in 1999 but wanted a break from cricket and was reluctant to lead England in a tour of South Africa so soon after having relinquished the South African coaching job.

Woolmer speaking at a cricket dinner in Cape Town in December 1999 Bob Woolmer 1999.jpg
Woolmer speaking at a cricket dinner in Cape Town in December 1999

Back to Warwickshire

He later returned to Warwickshire, and gained attention when he called for the removal of a life ban on South African captain Hansie Cronje for match-fixing. Woolmer spoke openly about Cronje and match fixing in an interview on the BBC TV programme "Panorama" in May 2001. [13] He then worked for the International Cricket Council in helping with cricket development in countries where the sport was not well established. [11]


He was appointed coach of the Pakistan team in 2004. This came after Javed Miandad was sacked when the Pakistanis conceded a 2–1 Test and 3–2 ODI series loss on home soil to arch rivals India, their first series win there in two decades. He was feted when his team reversed the result in early 2005 on their return tour to India, drawing the Tests 1–1 and winning the ODI series 4–2. In 2005 Pakistan beat England in a home series immediately after England had beaten the Australian team in England to secure the Ashes. In the home series against India that followed, Woolmer's side were victorious in the Test series, winning it 1–0; however, the side lost the ODI series that followed 4–1. Woolmer's side then beat Sri Lanka 2–0 in a 3 ODI series and achieved a 3rd consecutive Test series win with a 1–0 win in a 2 test series with Sri Lanka.

2006 ball-tampering row

In August 2006, on the eve of Pakistan's Twenty20 international against England in Bristol, Bob Woolmer was forced to defend his reputation when it was claimed Pakistani players lifted the seam of the ball when he was in charge of the team. [14] Former International Cricket Council match referee Barry Jarman alleged that during the 1997 triangular one-day tournament involving South Africa, Zimbabwe and India, a match ball, still in Jarman’s possession, that was confiscated after just 16 overs showed evidence of tampering by Woolmer’s team. Woolmer could not recall any such incident and he denied advocating ball-tampering. He also indicated that he contacted the match officials from that game who also could not recall any such incident. [14]

Woolmer stated in 2006 that he believed that ball-tampering should be allowed in cricket and that a modification to existing laws should be made. [15]


On 18 March 2007 – the day after Pakistan were knocked out of the 2007 World Cup, and three days before their final game of the tournament – Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. The initial report was that Woolmer had died of a heart attack. On 22 March, Jamaican police confirmed that a investigation had been launched because of the circumstances of Woolmer's death, based on a report by pathologist Ere Seshaiah that Woolmer had died of asphyxia via manual strangulation. Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields led the investigation. [16]

On 12 June 2007, Lucius Thomas, the commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, announced that the investigation had concluded that Woolmer had died of natural causes, and was not murdered as indicated by the earlier pathologist's report. Three independent pathologists' reports commissioned by the police had found that the initial conclusion of manual strangulation was incorrect, and toxicology tests found no evidence of poisoning. [17] The findings of the pathologists, and of Metropolitan Police detectives who had visited Jamaica to assist with the investigation, were reported in the weeks leading up to the announcement, which was widely expected by the time it was made. Reports suggested that Woolmer suffered from health problems including an enlarged heart and diabetes, which may have contributed to his death. [18] [19] [20]

On 6 November, coroner Patrick Murphy asked for further tests to be carried out on samples taken from Woolmer's body following discrepancies in the toxicology reports by forensic scientists from the Caribbean and the UK. [21]

After hearing twenty-six days of evidence, the jury at the inquest returned an open verdict, refusing to rule out the controversial strangulation theory put forward by Ere Seshaiah. [22]

In an interview with Fox News, former South African cricketer Clive Rice claimed that Woolmer was murdered by organised crime groups, saying “These mafia betting syndicates do not stop at anything and they do not care who gets in their way.” [23]

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has also gone on record stating that he "doubts that he died of natural causes" and speculated that Woolmer may have been about to reveal "some misgivings". [24]

Awards and honours

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