Renowned cricket journalist commits suicide

by Al Muthu

Peter Roebuck

Peter Roebuck, noted cricket journalist leaped six storeys to his death
from his room at the Southern Sun hotel in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.

Police visited the 55-year-old former Somerset captain to investigate an allegation of indecent assault against him when he moved towards the window and jumped. A spokesperson announced that investigations are on-going and the matter will be subject to an inquest.

It is alleged that Roebuck invited Itai Gondo, 26, on pretence of a university scholarship and proceeded to seduce him against his will. Gondo met the English born cricketer-turned-journalist through a friend who knew one of his adopted sons. During a chat via Facebook, Roebuck wished the young Zimbabwean to call him ‘Dad,’ asking him to bring a stick in case he needed to beat him.

During the actual meeting however, Roebuck launched himself on the unsuspecting youth.  Gondo’s phone rang at the time, which ceased Roebuck’s assault and the shocked student fled the suite.

Southern Hotel

Peter Roebuck was as much a pot of controversy as he was a brilliant journalist.

During his stint as Somerset captain he refused to renew the contracts of Sir Vivian Richards and Joel Garner stating them to be too old. The two West Indian stalwarts left the club after scribbling ‘Judas’ on his door.

In 2001, he was handed a suspended jail sentence for caning three of his students.Henk Lindeque from South Africa recalls his stint at the Taunton Cricket Club where Roebuck would cane him and three of his friends and then wish to see the markings. He would then coax those who were unwilling.

Tatenda Dennis Chadya, one of Roebuck’s adopted sons tells a different story.  A lawyer in training, he has been under Roebuck’s care since 2005. Registering genuine shock over the incidents surrounding his “Dad’s” death, Chadya  admitted his house had stringent rules, but claimed the worst that happened was docking of allowances.

During his days as a player, Roebuck was prolific in domestic matches, amassing 25000 runs including 38 centuries. He pursued coaching after his life as a professional cricketer and eventually delved into the world of books and journalism. He wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and ESPNCricinfo at the time of his death.

His form of commentary was  rare in that it was brutally frank. His article that questioned the domination of the Indian Premier League and how its popularity is dumbing down the audience from enjoying good and hard Test cricket is a typical example of his unique style of cricket journalism.

Perhaps Roebuck’s personality contributed to the disgraceful events surrounding his death. The man was often eccentric, introverted and political. An ardent follower of the old school values of cricket, his articles often probed those issues other journalists stayed away from.

Whatever has been said about the man, in the tragic passing of Peter Michael Roebuck, cricket has suffered a huge loss.