I have never met Peter Roebuck. I have never shaken his hand. I have never had a conversation with him. However, as an avid cricket lover, he has had a profound impact on how I have watched and appreciated the game.
He had a magnificent way with words and had an amazing command of the English language – whether orally while commentating on ABC Grandstand – or when writing for the SMH. This coupled with his remarkable insight into the game of cricket, made his daily match reports descriptive, enlightening but also unique. He was never afraid to call a spade a spade as he called for Ricky Ponting to step down after the SCG test against India in 2008 (http://www.theage.com.au/news/cricket/ponting-must-be-sacked/2008/01/07/1199554570948.html) or when he wrote that Clarke must choose between Cricket and his fiancé (http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/time-for-clarke-to-decide-on-his-career-path-20100309-pvs7.html). These were insightful commentaries by a man, who not just loved and understood the game but also the individuals and personalities that played it. His book “In It to Win It” which chronicles Australia’s rise from the late 80’s provides a fascinating perceptiveness and awareness on his part in predicting and foretelling the greatness that was to follow.
Since his death in 2011, cricket commentary in Australia has not been the same. The Australian summer just gone, has been one of the most tumultuous and exhilarating in recent memory. From the unfortunate death of Phillip Hughes on the hallowed grounds of the SCG, to the mental resolve of Michael Clarke in batting through the pain on Day 2 of the Adelaide test, to the emergence of the batting brilliance of Steve Smith, this has been a summer that has needed his discernment and comprehension.
Cricket is poorer for his loss and, this summer, more than any in recent memory, I have missed his commentary.
RIP Peter Roebuck and it is quite a reflection of your skills and your ability that people, like me, who you never crossed paths with, remember and cherish what you brought to this world.