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Woolmer's unwritten book Inshallah

Woolmer's unwritten book Inshallah

Author: Rashmee Roshan Lall
Publication: The Times of India
Date: 2 May, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Europe/Woolmer_called_his_book_Inshallah/rssarticleshow/1985976.cms

The Pakistan cricket team's 'descent' into praying rather than playing because of the infiltration of an other-worldly proselytising sect of Islam called the Tableeghi Jamaat (TJ) worried their murdered coach Bob Woolmer so much he was writing a book titled 'Inshallah', TOI has learnt.

The book, due out at the end of March, had been accepted by a South African publisher. It has now been shelved.

Woolmer openly expressed his irritation at the Pakistan World Cup Squad's pronounced TJ sympathies almost as soon as the team arrived at Montego Bay in Jamaica for the opening ceremony.

The squad's former media manager PJ Mir confirmed on Tuesday that Woolmer told this to him and team manager Talat Ali with the wailing backdrop of a TJ CD: "While all of us are on our way to the hotel (with the team), can't you ask them to turn it off?"

Mir said Woolmer's irritation was sparked after a series of incidents that appeared to underline some Pakistan players' determination to "make a political statement of their faith."

Mir, a former Pakistan player who was part of the squad during the first World Cup in 1975, said Woolmer could hardly have failed to notice that his boys appeared to be "concentrating more on a Tableeghi CD rather than talking cricket."

He added that it was absurd for Pakistan players to say the azaan on the aircraft to the World Cup venue because "Pakistan is a moderate nation, we have a moderate president, a modern prime minister, and it is not right to depict Pakistan like this."

On Tuesday, Mir's concerns were echoed by Qamar Ahmed, a London-based veteran cricket correspondent, who knew Woolmer for 25 years and has travelled with the Pakistan team for decades to cover eight World Cups, 351 Tests and 667 one-day matches.

He told TOI that Woolmer personally informed him of his forthcoming book, Inshallah , last February.

"He had obviously been watching the Pakistan cricket, its culture and the religious bent. He had seen that some of the boys would call in a substitute for fielding and go off to say namaaz," said Ahmed.

Mir, who has spent considerable time in London for the last 30 years and now presents a popular programme on the Pakistani TV channel ARY, added in a reference to former captain Rashid Lateef that he was equally "disappointed that a former Test cricketer, who has led the team, should have said there should be a fatwa on me (for saying the players were more interested in praying than playing)."

Mir's concerns over the rising religiosity of the Pakistani team came as cricket experts and aficionados here recounted jokes that chronicled the Pakistan team's increasing faith in prayer power rather than player power.

According to one apocryphal joke, alleged to be fact, the team's half-baked fanaticism was best reflected by captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who responded to an English journalist's congratulations on the birth of his son with these words: "Thanks to Allah, it's a team effort."

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