Remembering affable Bob
Kingston - I’m not quite sure where to start this blog as the last 24 hours have been something of a blur.
The disturbing news that Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer had been found unconscious in his hotel room in Kingston reached me just after midday, in the lobby of the Sunset Jamaica Grand Hotel in Ocho Rios.
Just hours before, the Irish team, together with hundreds of green-clad supporters had been celebrating their remarkable victory over Pakistan with the party of all parties on St Patrick’s Day.
Never before have I experienced such a dramatic and sobering change of mood...
I was preparing a report for Test Match Special with audio of the Irish singing, which had flooded the bar until the wee small hours. Suddenly everything was very very different.
It was soon established from a reporting perspective that I was in the wrong place. Ocho Rios is a two-hour drive from Kingston across the Blue Mountains, along twisty narrow roads.
Fortunately I got a text from fellow commentator Arlo White to say he, Kevin Howells and producer Caroline Short had arrived back in Kingston, having flown in from the India/Bangladesh match they had covered.
Kevin was quickly despatched to University hospital where Bob had been taken, while Arlo and Caroline headed for the team hotel. I began the drive back to Kingston.
It was with shock and disbelief that I heard confirmation from the Pakistan Cricket Board that the man who every journalist had affectionately slipped into the manner of simply calling ‘Bob’ had died.
I had spoken to him less than 12 hours earlier, conducting what may transpire to have been his last interview.
He chatted to me one on one, around the back of the media centre after the Ireland defeat.
Typical Bob in that he was always willing to talk, win or lose. I have never seen him turn down an interview.
Last night - although it feels so much longer ago - he spoke about his future with his usual great dignity, and about the fact that he no longer wanted to work in international cricket.
He wanted to honour his contract with the PCB until it expired at the end of June, but he was passionate about remaining in the game at a lower level.
He talked to me about hopes of doing consultancy coaching work in England, of continuing to write about the game, of maybe doing some radio commentary at some stage.
Bob had made up his mind to leave Pakistan cricket but said he wanted to sleep on it.
Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said the same when Bob asked him about his own future in the team bus on the way back from Sabina Park.
During Inzi’s extraordinary news conference, when, less than seven hours after Bob’s death he announced his retirement from One Day Internationals, he struggled to hold in his emotion as he recounted telling Bob they would talk about it tomorrow.
“Tomorrow” he said, “never came.”
I will never forget Bob's affable presence throughout England's tour of Pakistan in 2005. He offered a considered and insightful interview on almost a daily basis as I spent two months in the country covering my first overseas tour for the BBC Asian Network.
Cricket has lost a fine achiever, an inspiration and a devoted family man.
The saying on his website sums up his attitude to life as I have encountered him in my work. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is the present - a gift to make the most of.
Bob certainly made the most of his gifts.