Peter was found dead in November last year in puzzling circumstances. His 6th level Cape Town, South Africa, hotel window was opened and somehow he fell. At that time he was writing about the Australian-South African cricket series for both the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mark Tronson was for 17 years the Australian Cricket team chaplain it was his privilege to know Peter Roebuck as I would often call into the Press Box at cricket matches and say 'hello', and ensure the cricketing media knew he was also available to them in ministry.
Peter Roebuck always found time to have a chat with Mark Tronson at the cricket press box and the following day, or a day or so later, out would come a Biblical reference or quote in his cricket column
With new information coming to light, Peter Roebuck's life appeared to be on a different plane to Mark Tronson's and everyone else it seems. This is probably because that is the way he wanted it to be, he rarely talked about his personal life or his personal thoughts. People who knew him only knew the small part that he would allow them to see. It was Mark Tronson's privilege to see an aspect of Peter Roebuck that he probably didn't share with many others.
One aspect of Peter Roebuck's life
Mark Tronson says: "I do not know what his personal private faith was, but I do know that he was very Christian in his nature. If actions speak louder than words, then his attention to improving on his own intellectual Talents was one manifestation of this Christian attitude; as was his mentoring of young South Africans and his provision for them of a place to live, encouragement to study and financial aid. I can nothing from my personal experience of his dispositions or even if he had, what they were."
"Peter Roebuck also knew quite a number of the UK 'Christians in Sport' organisation whom I also knew, in particular their founder the Reverend Andrew Wingfield-Digby.
"Peter and Andrew were more than acquaintances as they knew each other through cricket, ministry and during their university days although Andrew was at Oxford and Peter was at Cambridge.
"The three of us shared a joke, that originated with Peter's quirky sense of humour, and relates to the story in my 1994 book "No Orchestra, No Trumpet'. Having developed the sports ministry in Australia from 1982, and being Chaplain to the Australian cricket team, I was at a training session at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) speaking with the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club – the premier English Club) Manager Ted Dexter, when the Australian coach Bob Simpson walked past and said "G'day Rev" .
"For Dexter, that was confirmation enough to chat seriously with me about the pastoral role for his own English lads. He asked me to discuss my ideas about Chaplaincy with Rev Wingfield-Digby. Three months later, well after the MCC team were back in England, Andrew Wingfield-Digby told me that he had been appointed MCC Chaplain. Andrew toured with the team regularly including India and Australia.
"Peter Roebuck's hearty response to all this was that it took a "mere Colonial" from the farthest reaches of the 'Empire' to arrange the prestigious and very Old English MCC chaplaincy appointment.
"Peter Roebuck was a recipient of my regular e-mail ministry newsletters and supported my ministry to retired cricketers and wrote a major feature article on my sideways move in 2001 to Life After Cricket.
Ministry reflection on acquaintances
But after 35 years in Christian Ministry, Mark Tronson said he is constantly reminded how little any of us really know someone else of our acquaintance.
There have been too many surprises in his ministry, both good and not-so-good, to say anything, other than, that this was the Peter Roebuck he knew. Moreover, he thanks the Lord Jesus for allowing this limited ministry into his life.
What Mark Tronson is permitted to conjecture, having witnessed many times the mill of church politics and the near soul destruction that such situations bring, is that like, ABC commentator Jim Maxwell, who reported, and having been with him just moments before his death - the heartache of being dragged through another public humiliation becomes overwhelming.
For those who have endured such trauma understand all to well the lack of clarity in such turmoil and moreover Peter Roebuck perceived a great injustice in the 2001 conviction of that caning incident where the intent was readily acknowledged but the action was dammed. This Sydney Morning Herald article of 1 January 2012 provides a broad overview of the life, times and death of Peter Roebuck. www.smh.com.au
Peter Roebuck's body is now back in England and a third autopsy was ordered by Coroner for Cheshire, Nicholas Rheinberg and was conducted two weeks ago. Detective Inspector Dougie Shaw said the initial findings of the UK post-mortem examination found injuries of "severe blunt force trauma consistent with a fall from height". Presumably the Coroner is to look at the events that led his death from "severe blunt force trauma".
Having said all this, standing alongside anyone who encounters such situations is the most wonderful and charitable role any friend can play in another person's life.
Christian Chaplains in the community (such as Armed Forces, Industry, Schools, Youth, Community, Sport, Hospitals, SES, Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Commerce, Schools, University) are at the forefront of 'standing alongside'.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html