Cricket writer Peter Roebuck, who considered Sydney his hometown in Australia, was sorely missed in the press box yesterday. This is the first Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Test after his demise last year. "Peter sat in this isle seat (position no 34 -- second row, first seat) in the SCG press box because it was easier for him to go in and out for radio commentary (for Australian Broadcasting Corporation)," Fairfax writer and former colleague Chloe Saltau says when asked about Roebuck's seat preference.
"He was a little untidy, but used to clear up the desk before leaving. He always had strong views about a field placement that he didn't like. But, he was a very chirpy character. It's a strange feeling to be at an SCG press box in the absence of Roebuck. We miss him dearly," she adds.
Roebuck's radio colleague and former Australia Test leg-spinner Kerry O'Keefe misses his randomness. "I worked with him for 11 years. He was a pleasure to work with. I can be quite flaky, while he was always rational with his comments. He was a very intelligent man. Our commentary team misses him because of his quirks around the box. He was very random with his comments.
"He never used a body deodorant. One day, during a match, I told him, 'Peter, you should use deodorant'. And his reply was: 'You married chaps know all about that'," O'Keefe says. "As a commentator, he used to scream 'what the hell is going on?' when something didn't please him. He hated a shallow mid-on... he felt it was a ridiculous position. There was this one time when England played Australia in a one-day international. Andrew Flintoff and James Kirtley opened the bowling for England. After four overs, Roebuck said on air: 'I haven't seen a single legal delivery'.
"He was very strident with his criticism -- that was one of his strengths. He didn't think of the consequences. After writing a strong piece on Ricky Ponting in 2008 (where he called for the Australia captain's sacking due to the Sydney Test controversy involving the Indians), he told me, 'I just wanted to rattle their cage'. There was a major fallout from that article. Australia's loss in the next Test at Perth could be attributed to his piece. Australia were scared to appeal at the WACA. They felt that Roebuck would have written some scathing pieces. His legacy remains forever," says an emotional O'Keefe.
"The fact that he left us has sunk in now. During first game of the season (against New Zealand at Brisbane), it was strange because he used to often spill something. We're commentating now and nothing has been spilled in the box. He was just like Ashley Mallett (former Australia spinner), who always used to spill something or the other. Sometimes he'd come in and say, 'what's that, cake?' I don't like cake'. The next thing, he'd be walking out with five pieces. All these completely contrasting scenes... it was amazing to have him around. But, it's time to move on," O'Keefe signs off.