‘He was one of Kent’s finest all-rounders’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OBITUARY -

TRIBUTES have been paid to for­mer Kent and Eng­land all-rounder Bob Woolmer, who died sud­denly at the week­end.

The 58-year-old Pak­istan coach was found un­con­scious in his ho­tel room in Ja­maica and pro­nounced dead at the Univer­sity Hospi­tal in Kingston on Sun­day morn­ing.

Hours ear­lier he had watched Pak­istan crash out of the World Cup fol­low­ing their sur­prise de­feat by Ire­land.

Born in Kan­pur in In­dia, the son of a Bri­tish busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive, Mr Woolmer moved to Eng­land at the age of seven to go to Yardley Court School in Ton­bridge.

He was at Skin­ner’s School in Tun­bridge Wells when, at the age of 15, he came to the at­ten­tion of then Kent 2nd XI coach Colin Page.

Mr Woolmer made his first team de­but in July 1968, aged 20.

Within two years he had won his county cap, hav­ing evolved into a key mem­ber of Kent’s most suc­cess­ful side ever.

His medium-pace bowl­ing and abil­ity to swing the ball both ways were in­stru­men­tal in se­cur­ing the county cham­pi­onship ti­tle in 1970.

Mr Woolmer was se­lected to play for Eng­land in the sec­ond Test of the 1975 Ashes se­ries and made his de­but at Lord’s.

He was named one of Wis­den’s crick­eters of the year in 1976 but ar­guably his tal­ents reached their peak in 1977.

That sea­son, when Kent shared the cham­pi­onship ti­tle with Mid­dle­sex, Mr Woolmer fin­ished top of their bowl­ing ranks and sec­ond in their bat­ting av­er­ages.

Kent re­tained their ti­tle the fol­low­ing sum­mer.

Mr Woolmer was one of Kent’s most pro­lific lim­ited overs match win­ners.

He was the first bowler to take 50 wick­ets in a league sea­son and his John Player League bowl­ing re­turn of six for nine against Der­byshire in 1979 re­mains Kent’s best fig­ures in league cricket.

Mr Woolmer’s Test ca­reer got off to a promis­ing start.

He made 149 in his sec­ond ap­pear­ance to se­cure a draw af­ter Eng­land fol­lowed on at the Oval in 1975 against the Aus­tralians.

He went on to score three hun­dreds in his first seven Tests against Aus­tralia, equalling Peter May’s record, but his Test ca­reer tailed off there­after.

A short stint play­ing World Se­ries Cricket un­der the Kerry Packer ban­ner in 1977 only served to sour his re­la­tion­ships with Kent’s com­mit­tee and the Test se­lec­tors.

Mr Woolmer re­turned to play four more Tests, but his Eng­land ca­reer ended af­ter six one-day in­ter­na­tion­als and 19 Test caps, the last of them back at Lord’s against Aus­tralia in 1981.

He joined the rebel tour to South Africa in the win­ter of 1981-82, and later made his home in Cape Town.

Mr Woolmer re­tired from county cricket be­cause of in­jury at the end of his Kent ben­e­fit sea­son in 1984, af­ter 279 first-class matches.

He scored 12,634 runs for the club, mak­ing his av­er­age 35.09, and took 334 wick­ets for 23.28 runs apiece.

This made him one of only 16 Kent play­ers to post a ca­reer dou­ble of 5,000 runs and 250 wick­ets.

Mr Woolmer opened a sports shop in Ton­bridge and ran a whole­sale sports goods com­pany in the town be­fore re­join­ing Kent in 1987 for a brief stint as coach.

He was then coach at War­wick­shire, lead­ing the club to the cham­pi­onship run­ner­sup slot in his first sea­son in 1991, their his­toric tre­ble in 1994 and four tro­phies in as many years be­fore leav­ing for a stint as coach to South Africa.

He led South Africa to the World Cup fi­nal, but Mr Woolmer’s term in of­fice was over­shad­owed by the Han­sie Cronje match-fix­ing scan­dal.

Mr Woolmer saw in the Mil­len­nium back at Edg­bas­ton dur­ing a sec­ond spell as coach that ended af­ter de­feat in the 2002 Ben­son & Hedges Cup fi­nal.

Af­ter a brief stint as the ICC’s high per­for­mance man­ager, he took over as coach to Pak­istan.

His oth­er­wise pro­duc­tive three-year term was marred by last sum­mer’s ball tam­per­ing al­le­ga­tions dur­ing the Test at the Oval.

Mr Woolmer leaves a wife, Gill, and sons Rus­sell and Dale.

Kent an­nual meet­ing re­port - see Sport page 12.

Pic­ture: Ady Kerry

Pak­istan coach Bob Woolmer prac­tises with the team be­fore their game at the St Lawrence Ground in Can­ter­bury on July 6 last year

Bob Woolmer

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