Woolmer remembered in memorial service

Sunday, September 9, 2007

LONDON: Bob Woolmer's life and career in cricket was honoured during a remembrance service at St John's Wood Church near Lord's here on Friday, as 200 friends, family and colleagues gathered to hear a moving tribute from the former England captain, Chris Cowdrey, who recalled Woolmer as his boyhood "hero".

Woolmer collapsed and died in his hotel room in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 18, hours after his Pakistan team had been knocked out of the World Cup by Ireland. The circumstances of his death were initially deemed to be suspicious, but after a lengthy investigation, Jamaica police admitted that he had died of natural causes.

Among the mourners were David Collier and David Morgan of the ECB, Ashley Giles and Mike Gatting, and Woolmer's widow Gill, and their two sons, Dale and Russell. They listened to an address from Cowdrey in which Woolmer's boyish enthusiasm for cricket was celebrated.

"Every day for Bob Woolmer was like a little boy going to his first ever match,"
said Cowdrey, whose father Colin played alongside him in the great Kent side of the 1970s.
"I would listen in wonder to my hero talking cricket."

Cowdrey made particularly reference to Woolmer's early years in South Africa, when he set out to work with disadvantaged club cricketers in a country that was still in the grip of the Apartheid regime.
"It was perhaps in Cape Town that I realised that Bob Woolmer was the most honourable, spirited person that I have ever known,"
said Cowdrey.

"It didn't faze Bob that South Africa was in political turmoil, soldiers and police ever present - sounds of gunshots and the smell of tear gas - he just kept the children focused on their net sessions. Then those who didn't have transport he would drive safely home. He was coach, groundsman, captain, mentor and coach driver.

"Bob Woolmer was an extraordinary man who treated everyone as equals."

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?