Sunday, 13 November 2011

Peter Roebuck the ultimate wordsmith meets his maker

Renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck commits suicide

CAPE TOWN: Peter Roebuck, one of the most respected cricket commentators, who also wrote for Indian newspapers, committed suicide at his hotel where he was covering Australia's Test series against South Africa.
According to a statement released by the South African police, the 55-year-old British-born Roebuck, who captained Somerset in 1980s, took away his own life. "This office can confirm that an incident occurred last night at about 21:15 at a hotel in Claremont where a 55-year-old British national who worked as an Australian commentator committed suicide," the statement said.

"The circumstances surrounding this incident is being conducted. An inquest docket has been opened for investigation," it said. Roebuck was covering the Australia-South Africa series as a radio commentator for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He also used to write for Australia's Fairfax newspapers. Even though the circumstances leading to his suicide were not clear, it has been reported that he was spoken to by local police on his return to the Southern Sun Hotel Newlands on Saturday night after having his dinner outside.

The hotel, on its part, had also issued a statement, saying, "An incident that occurred at Southern Sun Newlands was currently under full police investigation." Roebuck was born to two school teachers in Oxford on March 6, 1956, and was one of their six children. He studied law at Cambridge and played 335 first-class matches before deciding to make his career in writing about cricket. In 335 first-class matches, Roebuck, a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1988, made 17,558 runs at 37.27, with 33 centuries. He also led an England team to defeat against Holland.

Roebuck retired from top-level cricket in 1991. No sooner the news of his death came out, tributes started to pour in. "Peter was a wonderful writer who was the bard of summer for cricket-loving Australians. He was also an extraordinary bloke who will be sorely missed," the Herald's sport managing editor, Ian Fuge said. Craig Norenbergs, head of the ABC's Grandstand sports programme, added, "Incredibly sad news. He was an integral part of the Grandstand commentary team and apart from being a magnificent print journalist. "For us he could describe a game of cricket in such a way that even if you didn't like the game, you liked the way that he went about his business."

Roebuck's fellow commentator in ABC Radio, Kerry O'Keeffe described him as a "bookworm who loved the game". "Nobody analysed the game better, nobody cut to the chase more succinctly, and nobody saw where the game was going better," O'Keeffe said "Cricket consumed him and he played it with great distinction, and then turned to writing and commentary, and he was the No. 1 seed. "It is the most devastating news for so many out there who knew that voice, so incisive - the blue print for all our cricket commentary.

He rang me up nearly every week for the last 10 years to talk cricket, and every time I'd put the phone down and have a deeper view of the game after the conversation," he added.
Roebuck penned several books on cricket. His diary of the 1983 season, 'It Never Rains' established him as one of cricket's most insightful and strong voices. He also wrote an autobiography 'Sometimes I Forgot To Laugh'.

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Cricket commentator Peter Roebuck in sex case probe
South African police have launched an inquest into the death of Peter Roebuck after the esteemed cricket journalist plunged six stories to his death from a Cape Town hotel room. 

 Cape Town police captain Frederick van Wyk confirmed Roebuck, 55, died about 9.15pm on Saturday. It is understood he had been spoken to by Cape Town police, who were reportedly investigating sexual assault claims.

In 2001, the former Somerset captain was given a suspended jail sentence after admitting caning three young cricketers he had offered to coach. Asked if Roebuck had been interviewed about sexual assault allegations, Mr van Wyk said: ''I cannot comment on that. We are investigating the death. I have nothing more to say." Roebuck was staying at the Southern Sun Hotel Newlands in Claremont, Cape Town, where he had been covering the first Test.

He arrived back at the hotel after dinner with a friend and was last seen being spoken to by police. The Herald Sun has learnt Roebuck jumped out of a window while police were still in his room. He landed on the awning outside the entrance to the hotel. A source told the Herald Sun: "The police came to his room and wanted to speak to him. I'm told he was being questioned for sexual assault." ABC radio commentator Jim Maxwell is expected to give a statement to Cape Town police today. A shocked Maxwell said there had been no suggestion the respected writer was contemplating taking his life. "Things happen. As far as I could see ... there wasn't a problem. "He's one of the outstanding writers on the game of cricket. He was a person who had a great sense of humanity," he said. "We've lost a wonderful friend and supporter."

In 2001, Roebuck, of Exmouth in Devon, pleaded guilty at Taunton Crown Court to three charges of common assault. He was jailed for four months on each count, but the sentences were suspended for two years. Roebuck was seen to be in good spirits all week at the Newlands during the Test. He was seen having breakfast with the fiancee of an African youth he had helped put through university. It is understood Roebuck has spent more than $100,000 putting Africans through high school and university.

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