Cape Town: Former Somerset captain and well-known commentator and journalist Peter Roebuck has committed suicide, the South African police said.
Roebuck, aged 55, died at his hotel in Newlands, Cape Town where he was covering the current Test series between Australia and South Africa.
South African police released a statement confirming that Roebuck took his own life, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
“This office can confirm that an incident occurred Saturday night at about 21:15 at a hotel in Claremont where a 55-year-old British national who worked as an Australian commentator committed suicide,” the statement said.
“The circumstances surrounding this incident are being conducted. An inquest docket has been opened for investigation,” it said.
Roebuck was covering Australia’s ongoing Test tour, including as a radio commentator for the ABC.
“He was spoken to by local police on his return to the Southern Sun Hotel Newlands Saturday night after he had been out to dinner,” the report said.
A statement issued by the hotel said “an incident that occurred at Southern Sun Newlands” was currently under full police investigation.
Roebuck was the captain of Somerset in the 1980s before beginning a long media career, primarily working for Fairfax and the ABC.
He wrote for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).
Fairfax Media, which publishes SMH, issued a statement on the death of Roebuck.
“It is with great shock that we have learnt today that Peter Roebuck has died in Newlands, South Africa.”
“Peter was not only an extremely gifted cricket writer for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; he was also one of Australia’s most popular cricket commentators for the ABC. In his youth, he played for the English county Somerset and then made his home in Australia. In recent years, he built a reputation as one of the best columnists on the sport,” Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald.
Roebuck’s death came as a shock to the cricket world. “It is one of the saddest days in my life,” said former Test spinner and ABC cricket commentator Kerry O’Keeffe.
The manager of ABC Grandstand, Craig Norenbergs, praised Roebuck for his work in broadcasting and reporting cricket.
“Incredibly sad news. He was an integral part of the Grandstand commentary team apart from being a magnificent print journalist,” said Norenbergs.
“For us, he could describe a game of cricket in such a way that even if you didn’t like the game, you liked the way that he went about his business.”
Roebuck would regularly travel with the Australian cricket team and split the rest of his year living between Sydney and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Born in England, Roebuck had a fine cricket career before pursuing media interests.
He made his first class debut for Somerset in 1974 and played 335 four-day matches and 298 county one-day games. He scored 33 first-class centuries and passed 1,000 runs nine times in 12 seasons of country cricket.
John Stern, former editor of The Wisden Cricketer said: “Shocking and sad news about Peter Roebuck – one of the two or three best writers on cricket in the world.”
Lawrence Booth, editor of the Wisden Almanack said: “Cricket has lost one hell of an intellect and a bloke who cared deeply about the game. I always read Peter Roebuck with complete admiration.”
Roebuck penned several books on cricket. His diary of the 1983 season, ‘It Never Rains’ established him as one of cricket’s most insightful and strong voices. He also wrote an autobiography ‘Sometimes I Forgot To Laugh’.