Roebuck, quite familiar in India`s cricket circle

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2011, 22:18 PM IST

New Delhi: He once raised the ire of the Australians by calling for then skipper Ricky Ponting`s head, but the indictment instantly made noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck, who committed suicide in mysterious circumstances, quite a popular figure in India.

The former player-turned-cricket writer with a considerable following in India, died last night by reportedly jumping from the sixth floor of a Cape Town hotel.

Not surprisingly, the news left the cricketing world stunned, with tributes pouring in from all quarters, including eminent Indian sports journalists.

Known for his strong opinion and fearless writing, Roebuck had once slammed the Australian players, calling them a "pack of wild dogs", for their behaviour in the controversial Sydney Test against India way back in 2008.

Australia prevailed in the high-voltage Test, best remembered for heated exchanges between the two teams, but the manner in which they achieved victory did not go down well with the Indian fans.

The 55-year-old British-born Roebuck, a former Somerset captain who was settled in Australia, took strong exception to the Aussies` "wild" behaviour.

"Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team," Roebuck had written in his column.

"In the past few days, the Australian captain has presided over a performance that dragged the game into the pits. He turned a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs," Roebuck wrote following the match that was also marred by a verbal spat between Andrew Symonds and Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Writing further about the match that showed Australia in bad light, Roebuck said, "It was a wretched and ill-mannered display and not to be endured from any side let alone an international outfit representing a proud sporting nation.

"Make no mistake, it is not only the reputation of these cricketers that has suffered - Australia itself has been embarrassed."

In the piece, he had urged Cricket Australia to take note of such conduct.

"If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players in the past few days.

"It was the ugliest performance by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not already packed and gone home," Roebuck had written.

The 55-year-old British national, who captained Somerset in the 1980s, was in South Africa to cover the current series between South Africa and Australia.

He had his share of controversies on the cricket field as the Englishman, after being made Somerset captain in 1985, had a fallout with his predecessor Ian Botham over the future of overseas players Vivian Richards and Joel Garner in the team.

Roebuck wrote his last column in the wake of Australia`s humiliating defeat to South Africa in the Cape Town Test in which the visitors were all out for 47 in the second innings.

PTI