Peter Roebuck's playing career was overshadowed by his central role as Somerset captain in the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner and the subsequent acrimonious departure of Ian Botham
Peter Roebuck’s playing career was overshadowed by his central role as Somerset captain in the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner and the subsequent acrimonious departure of Ian Botham

 

By David Green

 

In death as in life, Peter Roebuck will probably best be remembered for a handful of controversial incidents.

 

He was a decent enough cricketer to have amassed 17,558 first-class runs at 37 with 33 hundreds and he was perhaps a tad unfortunate not to have played Test cricket – especially given the selection merry-go-round that existed in England in the 1980s.

 

But Roebuck’s playing career was overshadowed by his central role as Somerset captain in the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner and the subsequent acrimonious departure of Ian Botham.

 

The manner of his death means that there is a risk that the quality of Roebuck’s writing will be forgotten in favour of speculation and scandalous rumour.

 

That would be a second tragedy, as irrespective of the circumstances that prompted him to leap to his death, Roebuck was a fine cricket writer and one of the best of his generation alongside the likes of Michael Atherton and Gideon Haigh.

 

As well as being an erudite, absorbing and engaging writer, what made Roebuck really stand out was that he wasn’t afraid to take the contrary and sometimes controversial view. Even if one didn’t always agree with him, his opinion was always strongly argued and endearingly composed.

 

In what is a fairly banal world, Roebuck’s provocative views were like a breath of fresh air. Whether it was his incisive, illuminating and heartfelt observations on Zimbabwe or calling for the Ricky Ponting‘s head in 2008, Roebuck didn’t do fence-sitting, which made his pieces all the more compulsive reading.

 

Roebuck was a splendid contrarian and a maverick genius with the pen – the world of cricket writing is much worse for his departure.

 

(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World

Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also@TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfil his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)

 

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