In It to Win It

Peter Roebuck

Read January 2007

I first learned about writing style from Peter Roebuck. It was an obscure piece about a fellow Somerset player, David Gurr, who went from being one of England's most talented fast bowlers to someone who simply could not bowl at the stumps—except in the nets, where he was unplayable. Some phrases from it still live in my mind, twenty years later. I have, perhaps, come to expect too much from Peter Roebuck.

After a career playing cricket for Somerset, Roebuck migrated to Australia. This is his tribute to his adopted country's game, an analysis of how Australia turned into a nation that seems to virtually never lose at cricket. (As I was remarking to a colleague recently, despite its economic power, it sometimes feels as if, if Australia were to disappear tomorrow, nobody would never know—until the next cricket World Cup.)

The writing flourishes are frequently present, and an eclectic collection of scorecards tells its own story. But overall, the book is woefully lacking in insight or even detail. It is, mostly, a chronological slog through the Chappell, Border, Taylor and Waugh eras, pockmarked by somewhat needless sledging at his former country. If anything, his coverage of the non-victories and sporadic defeats is so extensive that you come away with a far lesser sense of awe than befits one of the greatest sporting runs, ever.