Vale Peter Roebuck


As a website which values writing – more specifically writing on sport – it is fitting that the tragically premature passing of one of sport’s finest scribes and commentators has already drawn eloquent tribute. More is likely to follow.

At the risk of redundancy, I feel compelled to add a few thoughts of my own.

The world will always seem filled with big issues and serious propositions, such that I can appreciate those who look askance at the often overwhelming obsession with matters sporting that can dominate this nation’s imagination. I can appreciate that view, but don’t agree.

To the limited extent that I would claim to understand life, I see it as much about the absurd as the grand. We may aspire and dream large, but we more frequently live amongst the small, the banal and the nonsensical. This is our nature. It is not something to be regretted. It is how we are. Our ridiculous friends, silly exploits and trivial obsessions say as much about us as any great achievements we should happen to stumble across along the way. This is why sport captures the imagination of so many.

When it comes to ridiculous exploits, I have found the wielding of willow and the flinging of leather to be amongst the most personally satisfying. Sad to confess, I could never attain any great standard in either pursuit, which, if anything, made me love the game more. I could appreciate its demands.

Peter Roebuck also loved the game, and appreciated its difficulties. He wrote and spoke of cricket to a standard matched by few. Like all the best writers, he could place his subject within a greater context without diminishing that subject for a moment. He communicated passion and understanding and empathy to those who follow about those who play.

He also held strong opinions about those who play and those who administrate. He held the courage of those convictions above any need to court popularity. You didn’t have to agree with all of these views to appreciate and respect the reasoning behind them.

No assessment of cricketing matters felt complete without taking in the Roebuck view. I can offer no greater tribute to a columnist.

The manner of his passing is murky at present. Those who are interested in such details will no doubt be given ample opportunity to indulge through the usual sources. For myself, I hold to the notion that none of us fare well if we are judged by our worst moments. We can only hope to be remembered by our best.

Roebuck’s best to me will be expressed through his work. I believe that work gave me a deeper appreciation and understanding of a passion we happened to share. That is why I feel the need now to wax sentimental about a man I will never know. Who, it seems, few claim to really know.

To know his work was enough for me, and many others

The absence of that work will leave a gaping hole in the coming summer of cricket, and the summers to follow.


About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Thank you John , a beautiful voice remembers another memorable one.


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