Charles Cowling


I once saw Peter Roebuck, the ex-Somerset cricket captain who yesterday committed suicide. He was pacing up and down outside the pavilion while the pitch dried out, deep in thought, consuming a brooding cigarette.  An analytical, introspective loner, he was no stranger to melancholy and controversy. The title of his first book, ‘It Never Rains — A Cricketer’s Lot’ tells you something about his emotional disposition. 

The day I saw him Ian Botham was still a Somerset player. (When Roebuck got rid of Joel Garner and Viv Richards because he reckoned them over the hill, Botham decamped in fury to Worcestershire.) I remember sitting watching a damp afternoon’s play. Botham square cut a ball to the boundary with such effortless power that it dematerialised as he hit it and rematerialised a second later as it crashed into the boundary board. It was as sweet a shot as I have ever seen. 

Cricket has a very high suicide rate in the UK, double the national average. In South Africa the rate is even higher. Cricketers are the only sportsmen so afflicted. 

But suicide is not a problem in the women’s game. And it is pretty much unknown in non-Anglo Saxon countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the West Indies.  Do you know why?

There’s a very good tribute to Roebuck by team mate Vic Marks in the Guardian here




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andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

thanks indeed Charles



andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago


a good piece, as ever – terribly sad about PR, who wrote some terrific stuff for the AUS newspapers and was a real asset to the journalistic side of the game, it’s been reported that personal issues played a part in this