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India will remember Roebuck for his indictment of Aussie team

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2011 20:18 IST

IANS
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Cricketer-turned-commentator Peter Roebuck, who died in a Cape Town hotel Saturday night, will be best remembered in India for his indictment of Ricky Ponting and the Australian team, whom he called a "pack of wild dogs", for their behaviour in the controversial Sydney Test in 2008.

Australia pulled off a stunning win against India, but the match will be always remembered for heated exchanges between the two teams.

The Sydney game saw erratic umpiring, a verbal spat between Andrew Symonds and Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who was later charged with making racial comments against the Australian all-rounder. It also showed the Australian team in poor light and the cricketing world questioned their attitude.

Roebuck, a former Somerset captain who was settled in Australia, was one of the few journalists to condemn the on-field behaviour of the home team, tearing them apart in his front page column for Sydney Morning Herald. It instantly made him a popular figure in India.

He called for Ponting's head and criticised the champion team for their "wild" behaviour in the match.

"Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team," Roebuck had written in the column.

"In the past few days, the Australian captain has presided over a performance that dragged the game into the pits. He turned a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs. As much can be told from the conduct of his closest allies in the team," Roebuck wrote.

"If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players in the past few days. It was the ugliest performance by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not already packed and gone home."

"That the senior players in the Australian team are oblivious to the fury they raised among many followers of the game in this country and beyond its shores merely confirms their own narrow and self-obsessed viewpoint.

"Doubtless, they were not exposed to the messages that poured in from distressed enthusiasts aghast to see the scenes of bad sportsmanship and triumphalism presented at the SCG during and after the match. Pained past players called to express their private disgust.

"It was a wretched and ill-mannered display and not to be endured from any side let alone an international outfit representing a proud sporting nation. Make no mistake, it is not only the reputation of these cricketers that has suffered - Australia itself has been embarrassed," he wrote in that piece.

Roebuck had his share of controversies even during his playing days in England.

The Englishman, after being made Somerset skipper in 1985 had a fallout with his predecessor Ian Botham regarding the future of overseas players Vivian Richards and Joel Garner in the team.

Roebuck's last column came in the wake of Australia's humiliating defeat to South Africa in the Cape Town test.

"The second Test (Johannesburg) gives the incumbents an opportunity to redeem themselves and the selectors a chance to study the trends. It's no use ditching players for the sake of it, or in response to public demand. Apart from anything else the replacements might not be any better, or ready," he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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