The Australian cricket summer will end sometime this week and what distinguishes this end from all the others in recent memory is that it has been a whole summer without Peter Roebuck. Some might say that this is an improvement, that Roebuck and his thing for Zimbabwean lads is no loss and that even those who gained tangible benefit from his generosity are better off without him.
I don’t think any of us can really know what the cost-benefit analysis of those relationships reveals, though I’m sure that there was both cost and benefit: the balance of all that is only for those who were in the room to judge. Those who prefer safe, narrow, rubrics of desire may find plenty to condemn but those condemnations are just insubstantial generic censures of something not fully understood.
The eulogies of those who knew him professionally, tentative and forlorn as they are, make it clear that Roebuck was not a simple fellow and that his heart was never on his sleeve. Complexity and obfuscation often go hand in hand, the urge to keep it simple becoming a velvet curtain. Roebuck, I think, spent a lot of his life trying to find the words to explain who he was and what he was about.
He found words for cricket, he found words for injustice, and he found words for generosity. But he never found words for love, he couldn’t speak his heart. If he couldn’t find the words that connected him to those for who made his heart burst then the question must have occurred to him to ask what connection he had at all. This shame, possibly amongst many, must have been crushing, possibly crushing enough to leap from a hotel window.
The ABC Grandstand coverage will go on without Roebuck. The cricket will go on without Roebuck. But I do miss him.