Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peter Roebuck - a tribute.

     News about the death of Peter Roebuck was about the kind of thing none of us hoped to see on opening the cricinfo website on a lazy sunday morning. I was dumbstruck and filled with a profound sense of grief. He wrote great pieces and did it often.

      For a cricket fanatic, his writings are a must read.  In my book, if you haven't read Roebuck, you haven't read enough about cricket. The most stunning facet of his writing to me was the way he established contexts. Contexts that a lot of other renowned writers of the game could not think of. How to look at Tendulkar's batting in the context of a progressing India, how to look at Sangakkara's speech at Lord's in the context of an in-transition Sri Lanka, how to look at a rebuilding Australia in the context of their domestic setup or how to look at Zimbabwe's boycott in the context of India, Lanka n Zimbabwe tri series. These are a few examples. I routinely re-read stuff written by him years or even decades back and still end up enjoying the freshness they retain. Here's a link to a collection of some of his articles. Peter Roebuck

    His was the kind of writing that filled one with a sense of satisfaction while at the same time forcing to contemplate. He would a write a sentence with a hundred words which was exactly what you thought about the issue and then end that paragraph with a short, crisp sentence that would blow you off your feet. He did it pretty much everytime. A deep thinker, he somehow managed to keep pace with his thoughts and put every bit of it into writing.  It is not so easy when one sees the number of aspects he brings into his write-ups. For the game of cricket, he was a custodian, a historian and at times a soothsayer.

      One of the most important chores of my everyday life is to go to the 'Surfer' in Cricinfo and see if there are any new articles from the master. It is something that would not happen from now on. It is a void that won't be filled. As Gideon High remarked, "I don't think anyone in cricket writing had a voice like Peter's when he arrived on the scene in the early 1980s. You only have to contrast the way we wrote about cricket in the 1970s to the way we write it now - Peter has been responsible I think for a lot of those developments." Perhaps, for the same reason, I see a bit of Roebuck in most of the writers now.