The death of Bob Woolmer, coach of the Pakistan Cricket team, brings into sharp focus the stresses and strains that coaches can find themselves under. I have heard is said that he was in poor health before the World Cup started, suffering from diabetes and needing oxygen, so the shock defeat to Ireland on Saturday may not be directly responsible for his apparent heart attack, however, it need hardly be said that it could hardly have helped matters.
Who would be a coach (or manager)? Once upon a time, political leaders resigned for the shortcomings of their departments, now only coaches do. If they are given the chance, that is, for it is more often the case that they are simply sacked. If a Government minister is sacked, he still has his job as M. P. to fall back on. A coach has nothing. I do not know what the average wage for a coach or manager is, I expect it is quite good; I certainly hope so, because once they are shown the door there can be no certainty of where the next job will come from.
That coaches can be sacked for other people’s failings seems terribly unfair. Perhaps they were no good at their job; on the other hand, what if the fault lies with the players? Unfortunately for the coach, however, sacking the players would be unimaginable. Whether it is fair or not, the buck stops with them.
All that can be done is that even when they are down the players continue to fight for their coach’s honour. By-the-by, this is what makes the escapades of England’s players over the weekend so disappointing. Messing around after a defeat and less than two days before the next match indicates not only a stupid short sightedness but great lack of respect for their leaders.
As for Woolmer, I am heartened to read of the tributes that have been paid to him. Pakistan’s unexpected exit from the World Cup meant that he would probably have been sacked before too long by the Pakistani cricket board. Be that as it may, I hope that his death means that they remember him well in the future. I am sure that it will.
Bob Woolmer – Requiescat in pace.