November 12, 2012

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An elegy for Peter Roebuck

Nishi Narayanan
Somerset  captain Peter Roebuck at a special meeting of club members over the decision to sack Viv Richards and Joel Garner, 8 November 2011
Peter Roebuck's death deeply affected many cricket fans across the world
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It has been a year since Peter Roebuck committed suicide in South Africa. A fan from Australia, Benjamin Golby, has written a song to mark the anniversary. "In Memoriam - P.M.R" is not an attempt at obituary for Peter Roebuck," said Golby, who is taking his Honours in Composition in Melbourne, having studied Music at the University of Western Australia. "Rather, it is a response to Mr Roebuck's death. This is what distinguishes an elegy from eulogy, in that an elegy is a personal lament rather than a detailing of its subject's qualities."

Golby wrote the song after attending a memorial service for Roebuck in Melbourne six weeks after the writer's death. "I had found Mr Roebuck's death difficult to comprehend and, when attempting to discuss it with friends, felt unable to express the confusion I felt regarding it."

In the song, Golby writes:

"Learnt of your death early on a Sunday morning hungover and consumed with my own complaints Soon after, my father telephoned touchingly to check I was okay, making sad warning Beside myself I had trotted down to the nearby oval, where I found solace watching the park cricketers"

"I feel like a charlatan saying this as a person who was personally unacquainted with Mr Roebuck but I felt the loss severely and still find it very troubling," Golby said. "I thought that this was an overreaction and was ashamed by my response until I realised that a great many others feel the same. His is not merely the case in Australia, where many felt a personal connection with Mr Roebuck through his commentary work on the ABC and the Fairfax papers. The English novelist Howard Jacobson expresses something similar in the opening paragraph of an article he wrote on the subject in the Independent.

"I assume that what is being expressed is not so much personal loss but that some dearly held idea or conviction, espoused by that person or achieving essence in them, is now lost. Fortunately ideas do not die with individuals. As has been expressed in many of the tributes written, Peter Roebuck's most significant contributions, excellence in cricket journalism and that cricket should be placed in the context of greater social and political issues, will abide."

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Keywords: Broadcasting, Commentary, Cricket writing, Fans, Media, Tributes

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