Bob Woolmer's death has come as a huge shock. As a keen follower of South African cricket in the 90s, I had the opportunity to see how brilliant Woolmer's cricketing mind was. Cricket is a game which has plenty of room for strategy and innovations if someone is creative. Cricket suited Woolmer perfectly in this regard. He brought innovations and thought about the game with a modern perspective for which he was widely regarded as the best coach in the world.
As a coach, he had success with Warwickshire county club and then reached great heights with South Africa. Australia has been the best cricket team in the world for what now seems an eternity. However, for a period in the 90s - 1996-99, South Africa had the best one-day side in the world. No small credit for that goes to Bob Woolmer. Woolmer always had that new point of view no one could have thought about and it was evident every where - whether it was team strategies, field placements or team compositions.
All rounders and lower order batsmen started getting a new meaning in international cricket. South African lower order batting would have guys like Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener, and Nicky Boje. Even Pat Symcox made runs and was contributing to the team apart from his bowling. I remember a match versus Australia where Woolmer opened with Lance Klusener and brought Pat Symcox in at number 3. Klusener made 92 and Symcox made 26. South Africa ended up with 301 and won comfortably in the end. That's just one match which shows how brilliant Woolmer was.
Many people suggested that Woolmer shouldn't coach, Pakistan but he followed his beliefs. Not that long ago, the team was progressing exceedingly well. Woolmer was creating depth in the batting and bringing in more options for the team in bowling. Woolmer always had a vision with a team and specific players were backed if it was believed that they could do a job which would add to the over all team strength of the team. So Shahid Afridi was brought back when no one gave him much of a chance.