November 13, 2011

Australia in South Africa 2011-12

Life goes on at numbed Newlands

Brydon Coverdale
Peter Roebuck
Peter Roebuck, 1956-2011  © Getty Images
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Sunday at the Newlands cricket ground was at once a typical day and an abnormal one. Barely twelve hours after one of the most widely-read columnists on the game, one of the sport's most distinctive commentators, had taken his own life, Australia's cricketers were in the nets.

As one life ends, others go on. The game does not wait. The Australians have plenty to work on after their loss during the week. On what was to be the fifth day of the Cape Town Test, they were already looking ahead to the Johannesburg match, which starts on Thursday.

A match that, in one of his final columns, Peter Roebuck had described as a chance for Australia's incumbents to redeem themselves and for the new selectors to study the trends. Trends, Roebuck noted, like their trouble against the seaming or swinging ball.

He was restrained in his writing after Australia were dismissed for 47. It wasn't always that way. Notably, he raised the ire of the Australians in January 2008, when he wrote that Ricky Ponting should have been sacked as captain for his role in the Sydney Test controversy against India.

On Sunday, Ponting approached the journalists watching the net session at Newlands and expressed how sorry he was to hear of Roebuck's death. He was not sought for comment; he offered it unprompted and sincerely.

Ponting was interrupted by a freak hailstorm that hit without warning, dropping little balls of ice onto the heads of every player and onlooker as they ran for cover. Some were fortunate enough to be wearing helmets.

As the Australians made their way inside the assistant coach, Justin Langer, said Roebuck was a "great writer" and a "talent lost".

Already, the captain, Michael Clarke, had mentioned his shock at being woken by the news in the early hours of the morning. At first, he didn't believe it.

Disbelief was a common theme. Shane Watson's face expressed as much as he stood with Clarke, eyebrows raised, shaking his head.

At times, Roebuck had passed judgment on them all, not always in the positive. But they recognised his knowledge of the game and respected that he was just doing his job.

The Southern Sun Hotel, where Roebuck died, is visible to the south-west from the Newlands ground. The ground where only two days ago, Roebuck wrote of Australia's challenge of the next few days.

"Australian cricket is lucky that it has a few days of respite between the dumbfounding events at Newlands and its next engagement," he wrote. "The break gives coaches, selectors and captain the breathing space needed to collect their thoughts."

On Sunday, they were just doing that.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Aadya on (August 2, 2012, 3:47 GMT)

What, I believe, Indian bametsn could expect in the III test.If we carefully pondered the three wickets that we lost on the final day of our glorious march to victory, all the three scapls were to Tremlett's credit.The last two wickets were done by well directed high rising deliveries ( Karthik a fiery, bouncy ball to his shoulder and Tendulkar a bouncy delivery to his rib case).David Gower in his post match sum up, metnioned about Oval producing more bounce ( like a tennis ball).I wonder whether that would be the strategy of England. They realised Indian bametsn negotiated swing bowling farily well by playing late and letting go prudently.It may worthwhile our bametsn practice negotiating so called chin music before the next test.

Posted by ikram on (November 15, 2011, 7:43 GMT)

RIP Peter

Posted by Peter Martin on (November 14, 2011, 11:08 GMT)

I thought Brydon Coverdale's article on the late Peter Roebuck was most thoughtful. Being a cricket journalist, which I have the honour to be in a small city in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, is at times not an easy job, as the article suggests. You may write about a certain player in a negative light, and then have to face him, perhaps at the lunch table or at the nets. I think Roebuck over the years was a most insightful writer on the game and his opinions made sense, despite rubbing a few players up the wrong way, and he will be sorely missed in the media boxes of the world. Peter Martin East London, South Africa

Posted by Shankar Sankaran on (November 14, 2011, 9:53 GMT)

I am shocked to hear the news about Peter. I usually look for his column first as soon as I open my Sydney Morning Herald. My wife and I would discuss his comments and admire his command of language. I would also regularly listen to Peter and his fellow commentators on the ABC radio while travelling or watching the match at SCG. It is a great loss to the World of Cricket as well as the young people he was helping in South Africa. He was always forthright and had a good understanding of the various cricket cultures around the world.

Shankar

Posted by Indiancrab on (November 14, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

RIP Peter, you are sorely missed

Posted by Adam on (November 14, 2011, 3:32 GMT)

I fear this is the calm before the storm. Just remember that many of us listened, watched and thought about cricket in a variety of ways, which was why Peter's voice was so important it was a different view. Let's deal with what is to come with dignity and grace if it turns out to be full of unpleasant surprises.

Posted by mandeep on (November 13, 2011, 19:57 GMT)

its another setback in the time when world cricket is already going through crisis

Posted by Madhuri Iyer on (November 13, 2011, 18:19 GMT)

Still numb....Can't believe it! And obviously you would expect the Australian team to pay their regards to the legend...

Posted by Kesava on (November 13, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

RIP Peter Roebuck.. He deserves recognition for his services to Cricket and to informative, balanced and dignified journalism.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brydon Coverdale
Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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