Peter Roebuck is one of my favourite cricket journalists. Considering that I read only cricket when it comes to reading about sports, I can safely state that Roebuck is my favourite sports journalist.
Now, the reason I like Roebuck is not because he is one of the better thinkers of the game. Nor is it because he has played county cricket and captained stars like Viv Richards and Gavaskar. I like him for his writing. Simple as that. I like him for bringing literary prose to the game of cricket.
One of the best articles I have ever read (across all genres of column writings) is his piece on VVS Laxman when he scored a 281 at Kolkata. I tried locating it online but wasn’t able to find it and hence you shall be deprived.
You can imagine my joy at meeting Roebuck in person a couple of years ago when India was playing a test match here in Bangalore. A friend and I were sitting in the wet stands and waiting for play to start (and the rain to stop). Just a few rows ahead of us was Mr. Roebuck with a straw hat on, taking down notes. A quick hi and an acknowledgment from our side about the fact that we knew who he was – that is all that transpired. And that is how I met Peter Roebuck.
Coming to matters of national importance, the Indian tour of Australia seems to have gone horribly sour. Yes, umpires do make mistakes and it did appear that we were singled out. But I think the two sides should sit down, talk things out in a professional manner, shake hands and get on with it. Burning of Bucknor’s photographs and raising nation wide protests is not really good for the game.
Roebuck, in his inimitable style, says Ponting should be sacked.
On the tour:
Beyond comparison it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not packed their bags and gone home. There is no justice for them in this country, nor any manners.
Harbhajan Singh can be an irritating young man but he is head of a family and responsible for raising nine people. And all the Australian elders want to do is to hunt him from the game. Australian fieldsmen fire insults from the corners of their mouths, an intemperate Sikh warrior overreacts and his rudeness is seized upon. It might impress barrack room lawyers.
On the Aussie team’s behavior after the match:
Probably the worst aspect of the Australians’ performance was their conduct at the end. When the last catch was taken they formed into a huddle and started jumping up and down like teenagers at a rave. It was not euphoria. It was ecstasy. They had swallowed a dangerous pill called vengeance. Not one player so much as thought about shaking hands with the defeated and departing. So much for Andrew Flintoff consoling a stricken opponent in his hour of defeat.
The final statement (these kind of lines make Roebuck a favourite):
It is possible to love a country and not its cricket team.
Read the complete article here.
And oh yes, just in case the point was lost, I have met Roebuck.