Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peter Roebuck batting against Glamorgan in 1986.


It`s turning out to be a curiously mixed sporting weekend.   Hard on the heels of the Rugby Union fiasco concerning the lack of discipline by England players at the recent World Cup in New Zealand, comes the depressing news that England head coach Martin Johnson feels he may have to resign.   Sad on two counts.   One because he is one of the most inspirational personalities available to England and two, because the things that happened out there were not of his making. Nonetheless he feels he must take the ultimate responsibility for what went on.   I would have thought that English rugby is in a big enough mess without losing Martin Johnson as well.

Last night`s football saw an encouraging display by England in their 1-0 defeat of world champions Spain.   The backs to the wall defending, especially of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Scott Parker was reminiscent of Rorke`s Drift and it calls into question the need to recall the troubled John Terry for Tuesday evening`s joust with Sweden.  But Fabio Capello knows what he`s doing.   Doesn`t he?

I`ve just been watching our street`s hard working pacy wideman Scott Wagstaff playing for Charlton in their televised 4-0 FA Cup win away at Halifax and it was good to see the massed ranks of the Wagstaff family there in the Shay Stadium lending their support to the fleet footed flanker.  

More disturbing was the news that one time Somerset cricket captain, Peter Roebuck, committed suicide by jumping from his sixth storey hotel window in Cape Town whilst being questioned by the South African police.   Now of course, it`s always sad to learn of suicides, especially those involving those such as Roebuck, described today by Derek Pringle as  a`driven and tortured soul.`  

But cricket is no stranger to suicides, with well over a hundred players  having taken their lives over the years.  Some have been leading high profile players - Shrewsbury, Stoddart, Gimblett, Bairstow, Jack Iverson, Sidney Barnes, Jim Burke and now Roebuck.   As a player he was good enough to score over 1,000 runs in each of nine seasons and to captain Somerset albeit with a bookish approach which always seemed a little out of tune with that county`s cider driven image.  

 He will perhaps be best remembered for the falling out with Ian Botham following his (Roebuck`s) decision not to renew the contracts of Viv Richards and Joel Garner.  Botham left for Worcestershire and other ports of call and it took Somerset years to recover.   It`s perhaps telling that the county ground at Taunton boasts the Sir Vivian Richards Gates and the Sir Ian Botham Stand.   I wonder what they will do to remember Peter Roebuck.

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