Pak players pay rich tribute to late coach Bob Woolmer

Karachi: Former Pakistan foreign coach Bob Woolmer may no longer be in this world but some of the players still have happy memories of the times spent with him and believe the Englishman was the best coach to be associated with the national side.

Three days after Woolmer`s fourth death anniversary was observed with memorial services in Karachi and Lahore churches, Pakistan`s one-day skipper Shahid Afridi paid glowing tributes to him.

"I still remember him a lot and have happy memories of working with him. I credit him for my comeback to the Pakistan team," Afridi said. "Woolmer was a top coach and it is not possible to fill the vaccum created by his tragic death," he said. Woolmer died in mysterious circumstances in the team hotel in Jamaica at the 2007 World Cup, a day after Pakistan lost to minnows Ireland in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, a defeat that sent Pakistan crashing out.

"I still miss his guidance and commitment to the Pakistan team. He was totally dedicated to seeing Pakistan cricket reach greater heights," Afridi said.

The Pakistan captain, like many of his teammates, believed that if his team could go on to play the World Cup final, it would be a fitting tribute to the late Woolmer. "He always felt that our team had the potential to win the last World Cup unfortunately we went out of the tournament early. This time we are working hard to reach the final," he added.

Pakistan`s in-form pace bowler, Umar Gul said the team wants to dedicate the World Cup win to him and the people of Pakistan, who have gone through tough times in recent years. The Pakistan cricket Board has named its national cricket academy after the late Woolmer in Lahore. Pakistan`s banned pace bowler, Muhammad Asif also credited Woolmer for his comeback into the national side in late 2005 against England.

"I remember how Woolmer told me I would play regularly for Pakistan after watching me bowl in just one first class match," Asif told cricket website, in London.

"Working with Bob was an absolute honour for me. To be taught and coached the finer arts of cricket by such a fantastic person and coach was something that I will always cherish and I would just like to pay my personal tribute to Bob Woolmer.”

"I had a lot of respect for Bob as a person and as a professional, and I believe that he did a fantastic job for Pakistan cricket and took it to unforeseen levels during his time as coach. He was a great man, humble and approachable. He was always available for advice and help," Asif said.