“What a stupid world.” Readers of The HINDU may have seen today's 'Calvin and Hobbes' end with those very words.
What a stupid world.
A man respected and loved for enriching our beloved game in so many ways will do so no more. We are poorer for it.
Bob Woolmer gave us Hansie Cronje's South African side of the 90s. They thrilled us with their near-impossible fielding skills, their fearsome efficiency (yes, it's a virtue that must be admired, let no one tell you differently), their ability to make winning seem matter of fact. They were so good, we quickly grew to hate them as much as we hate the Australians. Now that's something.
Bob brought science and method to the forefront of the game – and showed cricket teams how they could win on bad days. How they could excel even if slightly short on God given cricketing gifts. There is no team in the world today that has not been touched by his wisdom in some way. In numerous interviews and articles over the years, he impressed us with his thoughts and views on the game and how it should be played. Always thoughtful. Always interesting.
Make no mistake – Bob raised the bar. Just watch videos of matches from the years before his arrival, and you'll see that this is true. This alone guarantees him a place in the pantheon of cricket's most influential men ever.
Now he's gone. Just like that. In his worst cricketing hour. It's as if he decided that he'd had enough, and simply left. Without a thought for what we'd do without him.
There will be reams written about his contributions, his successes and failures, his methods and theories. I'd rather dwell on something else.
On the night of his death, there was the usual flurry of telephone calls, messages and e-mails between my own circle of cricket fans. And every single one of us agreed – this didn't feel like something that was happening far away, in the world of newsprint and TV. No, this felt like we had lost a friend, someone we had spent time with for years.
Why did he have to die like this? Why now? Wouldn't it have been easier if we could have read about his passing in a quiet corner of the paper, years after he had faded from public life?
In India and Pakistan, we claim to be passionate about cricket. Is it passion that drives us to believe that we're within our rights to destroy someone's property? Is it passion that motivates us to put so much pressure on somebody that they can die from the stress? Or is it madness and evil? Anger and stupidity? Ignorance and fear?
What a stupid, stupid world.