Peter Roebuck

28 12 2007

27 December 2007. 

Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test.

Oz. 343 all out. 

India 196 all out.

Srinivasan of the Indian Voice arranges a dinner around each Boxing Day match with noted writer, commentator and raconteur Peter Roebuck.

This time it was at the Chennai Banana Leaf, a change from the venue of previous years, Bala da Dhaba.

The time was for 7.30 pm. A lot of us rocked up early and began a philosophical post mortem of Day 2.

Dravid shouldn’t have opened. Flem said this played like an Indian pitch;So why 196 all out? Sachin was all class. Lacchu and Dada were not bad either. Kumble has been such a lion of a captain and bowler. Why didn’t he get the gig earlier?

You know.

Peter and Srini turned up on the dot at 7:30 pm. I was lucky enough to have Peter at my table. After a hello and a firm handshake, we got talking.

My view is that he talks cricket all day and was going to talk about it shortly anyway.

We therefore discuss in no particular order,

a) his literary influences

He doesn’t commit to it, but when I suggest Wodehouse and Waugh (Evelyn not Steve), he admits to have read them.

b)  Cricket writing.

Peter has heard say that Mukul Kesavan’s Men in White is good, but is interested in my opinion nevertheless. I, having read the book, am less than complimentary about the credentials of someone who has not played more than gully cricket.

c) The rapidly changing socio-political landscape of India.

Narendra Modi, the purportedly inclusive, non xenophobic urban Indian, the ultra-modern Bombayite versus the untouched aspect of small town Indian youth. The growing self confidence of the ‘global Indian’.

d) Awards for excellence in Cricket Writing.

That was me indulging in a spot of sail-filling, pumping up tyres-whatever you will. All sincere to be sure. He was charmingly self deprecatory about it all.

All too soon, it is time for the buffet (Dosa, Uthappams, idlis, naan, sambar, veg koottu, pulao, paneer curry, carrot halwa, kheer, appaLam, raita, green salad-for those who take an interest in such minutiae) followed by Peter taking the floor.

Peter talks along the expected lines

At least three games preparation needed to try out your openers in Oz, blame BCCI for this lack of preparation, under confident Dravid, unrelenting Aussies, classy Sachin, Kumble, pro Buchanan, good raps for Troy Cooley and Peter Kirsten, try opening with Yuvi in the 2nd innings with Dravid back to #3. Not a selector in sight, however Sharad Pawar and twenty of his chamchas are landing-why? Maybe fourteen of those are tax specialists suggests a wag.

Quite a free wheeling Q&A follows with these nuggets emerging.

‘Greg Chappell is that most dangerous of things, a visionary’.

‘If Shane Warne had played in Ian Chappell’s team of the ’70s, he would have gotten 150 wickets and faded away’.

‘I have been to three farewell press conferences, Langer, McGrath and Warne-two out of three were very complimentary about Buchanan. I won’t say who wasn’t’.

‘Cricket will be a lot poorer for the retirement of Warne. We still haven’t fathomed how much of a loss cricket has sustained’.

‘Everyone likes Harsha Bhogle. Everyone enjoys being on air with him. He has this innocence that’s charming’.

‘In print you had better be able to back up your story. On air though-it is not held as much against you-unless Darren Berry’s listening.’

As ever, one suspects Peter would have loved to hold the floor all night, but for the minor inconvenience of the restaurant needing to close. We reluctantly broke up around 10.30 pm.

Donations to his charity were sought and to everyone’s credit, I think people dug deep.

I look forward to next year. Thanks again Srini.

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