Peter Roebuck, born an English man but known to the world as an Australian newspaper columnist and radio commentator died an unfortunate death on November 12th when he committed suicide by jumping off from his sixth floor hotel room in Cape Town. The situation under which the incident happened is said to be ‘murky’ and inconclusive as the Western Cape provincial police are still investigating this unexpected demise and as to what maybe the ulterior motive behind it.
Peter Roebuck started his career in cricket as a player and then took to column-writing and commentary for which he was greatly reputed for. Roebuck was not far from controversy even in his playing days as he is still known for ousting the West Indian greats like Sir Viv Richards and Joel Garner from the Somerset County team of which he was Captain. He was named as the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1988 and retired from all forms of the game in 1991.
He then started a new innings in his cricketing career; taking to the ‘mighty’ pen to voice is views. Roebuck was always in a league of his own from the very beginning as he was the least unbiased, highly prolific and a shrewd judge of the game, among all the other globally recognized writers. He was highly critical of the game which he loved, played and cherished writing about and was more aggressive when it came to writing about the Australians in particular.
Roebuck has gone from accusing the Australian team as “a pack of wild dogs” to a team having “bad sportsmanship and triumphalism”. His death came as a shocker for the entire Australian team as he was there touring with the team in South Africa where this unfortunate event occurred. Former Aussie batsmen Steve Waugh said, “As a captain I would always be keen to read Peter’s take on the previous day’s play. His presence and views will be sorely missed.” Fellow Aussie Geoff Lawson said, “A strong, independent, informed and inquiring mind, he will be missed by many. His death is a complete shock and unbearably premature.”
Roebuck, a Cambridge Law graduate also gave attention to the subtleties in life as he was extremely generous and caring. He has been a great philanthropist, establishing the Learning for a Better World (LBW) Trust to help students from cricket-playing developing countries to complete tertiary education. In addition to supporting the LBW Trust, Roebuck spent A$100,000 of his own money to help put African youth through high school and university.
Many saw he jumped out of the hotel window while being questioned by police about an alleged sexual assault, it has been reported. In 2001, Roebuck received a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to common assault for caning three young South African cricketers he had been coaching. ”Obviously I misjudged the mood and that was my mistake and my responsibility, and I accept that,” he’d said at the time. Although his death does not seem to have any link to that incident, investigations are still on by the police to find the actual cause.
Peter Roebuck’s theory in life has always been “Everyone deserves a chance in life”. A man of such intellectual depth and curiosity to have ended his own life seems quite bizarre as the cricketing world still struggles to come to terms with his death. No longer can we wake up expecting to read his impartial and highly insightful articles of the great game of cricket. The entire world has lost a man of frank nature, a profound advocate of the game and the passion he brought to it.