March 17, 2007 Pakistan received a shocker from minnows Ireland as they lost the match by 3 wickets and their World Cup campaign was over. A day later, the entire cricketing and sporting world received a shocking news. Then-Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room under mysterious circumstances.
It’s been 13 years since the death of the English coach and one his pupil Shoaib Akhtar heaped praises on his death anniversary.
Remembering his former coach, the world’s fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar said that Bob Woolmer was his very good friend and the mannerism in which he died makes him sad.
Remembering about his first meeting with late Woolmer Akhtar said that he interacted with him in Northampton.
“People think we used to fight a lot but it was not like that. When he became the coach he came to me in Northampton and said that ‘Shoaib I don’t want any trouble from you,’ and I said him that he was talking to the wrong person and he will not have any problem with me and then he said that others have indicated this to him.”
The former Pakistan pacer went on to say that he and Woolmer did not talk much for the next few years because of “ideological” differences.
“I believed in match winning performances and that match can get over soon. Cricket is a game of match winners and a good spell or a good innings can win the match for the team but Bob used to think that cricket is a team sport.”
It was only during England’s tour to Pakistan in 2005 that the two came close “as a friend”.
“During the England tour after some initial hiccups I was selected in the team for my pace and I took wickets against a very high-spirited England team, who were coming after an Ashes win. We taught them a lesson and took wickets in Multan, Faisalabad and then took a 5 wicket haul in the Lahore ODI. Woolmer was very happy then and he danced, later he told me that Shoaib you were right, individual acts do win matches.”
The 44-year-old said after that incident they became “great friends” and spent a lot of time together. It was during this time when Bob Woolmer would come into Shoaib’s room during the night and discuss about the then-captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
“He didn’t have a good relationship with Inzamam-ul-Haq and the whole team knew it. I used to console him in the night when he used to come in my room, I would joke with him and also take him out for food.”
An emotional Akhtar also talked about his last meeting with Bob Woolmer, on his YouTube channel.
“I met him the night team was leaving for West Indies for the World Cup 2007. I told him to take care of himself and tell him not to worry much as it not the end of the world. When I was leaving he called me back and hugged my saying, ‘Shoaib I will miss you,’ I said him I will miss you too. That was the last time we met.
Akhtar revealed that the night Woolmer died he was watching India and Pakistan getting “slaughtered” in the World Cup.
“It was the most painful time for me. I was calling people left right and centre and trying to know what happened. It was a chaotic situation. The chairman ran away and PCB was facing humiliation. Finally the governemnt took over and sent people for investigation.”
The former speedster concluded by saying he lost father-like figure in Woolmer and it was sad that Woolmer could not see Younis Khan, whom he nurtured, become a legend.
“He had time for gatekeepers also. It is sad remebering him but we should cherish the good time,” he concluded.