'Learn from past mistakes'
'Sri Lanka has improved tremendously and come a long way in the world arena' - Woolmer
By Bernie Wijesekera
"Last Wednesday our frontline batsmen let us down badly and that cost us the game. Indisciplined batting and needless run outs made us give Sri Lanka the game on a platter. Had we made a total a little excess of 200 we could have made a game of it, but, today it is a do-or-die battle. During the past few days we have put in a lot of work and we are ready to tackle any situation on its own merit." Said the Pakistan new coach Bob Woolmer, who was coming home after a bad day in office after the game against Sri Lanka.

A seventies cricketer, Bob played for England along with legends in the calibre of the late Sir Colin Cowdery, Derek Underwood, Alan Knott and Tony Greig and was a workmanlike top order batsman who had a top score of 149 against Australia in Tests.

A high profile coach in the world arena, Woolmer made his niche by nurturing South Africa back into the 'big time' by handling them from 1994 to 1999. Besides South Africa Woolmer had stints with English County Warwickshire and the ICC's High Performance Initiative Programme.

"Pakistan is the challenge that I was looking for. Prior to taking this up my whole family sat together had a long chat and took a collective decision. I cannot go at this rate when I am sixty years old and this is the most opportune time and I took it with both hands. I have 36 years of experience behind me and I want to give that to Pakistan who have an abundance of talent." said the 56-year-old former English middle order batsman.

Reminiscing his stint with South Africa Woolmer said "They are keen learners, very inquisitive, athletic and most of all they come out from a very good basic structure and they are keen to learn. All these factors made my job easy. However when I was engaged with the ICC's high performance programme I missed the day to day aspects of coaching and I was keen to get back to my pet subject".

On being offered to coach Sri Lanka some time ago and turning it down Woolmer said "It was too soon after my stint with the South Africans and I really needed a break" and, added "As a team Sri Lanka has improved tremendously and come a long way in the world arena. Your two fast bowlers Vaas and especially Nuwan Zoysa are bowling very well at present. Vaas is persevering and he never gives up trying, he needs watching. Zoysa has definitely improved and he also has got bigger than when I last saw him. They must work harder and build mental toughness so that they can gear themselves to the pressures of world cricket." Coming on to the subject of spin wizard Muttaih Muralitheran the "top bracket" coach said "Murali has a unique style which the current letter of the law makes it a problem. However I do not think that he throws the ball. He indeed is a great bowler".

Getting back to Pakistan cricket Woolmer continued "They have one of the best Cricket Academies in the world at Lahore and Pakistan also have one of the best nurseries and is oozing with talent. The current side is young and talented and are willing to work hard on their basics. At present they are working on a long term programme and most of these young cricketers of today will be just ripe with experience when it comes to the world cup of 2007."

" The Pakistan Cricket Board met me some time ago and I made a presentation to them and we built on that. It suited me in every way. It was the challenge that I was looking for. The financial gains also were attractive so here I am. I know that Pakistan is not the easiest place to work, but the point is to get every one behind the team and work as one unit. We do not need to worry about what happened in the past, but we need to learn from it and try not to repeat the errors."


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