Peter Roebuck, cricketer, coach, writer, broadcaster and advocate, died tragically on Saturday night in Cape Town at the age of 55. Much has already been written about his acclaimed legacy. Much more will be written about his complexities. I just want to share one anecdote.
I met Roebuck fleetingly on a few occasions around the turn of the millennium while I was working for Cricinfo. This was back in the days when its web address was "cricket.org", an outsider treated with suspicion using a medium yet to be taken seriously, and years before Roebuck became a columnist for the ESPN-owned global powerhouse which is the cricket media mainstream.
The moment I recall was in the press box at the SCG during a Sheffield Shield match, I can't recall the exact game but I think it was in about the 1999-2000 season. I was there as a reporter, my colleague David Walsh was posting ball-by-ball scores and commentary on probably the only laptop in the press box - certainly the only one with the technical wizardry of a live dial-up internet connection. It was his responsibility to broadcast to the world, via the Twitter of its day, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), such essential gems as "[^NSW_SA] 135.1 Gillespie to Waugh, one run, glanced to fine leg for a single."
Roebuck, who was well known for doing most of his journalism from anywhere but inside the press box, dropped in for a quick visit to the scorers and a brief chat to some of the other journos present. As he was leaving, Roebuck spotted the Cricinfo laptop screen, full of its ball-by-ball one-liners.
Appearing bemused, he stopped, looked down at David, and asked "Are you writing a play?".
And then exited, stage left, without waiting for an answer.