It Takes All Sorts

Published: 2005
Pages: 255
Author: Roebuck, Peter
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Rating: 3 stars

It Takes All Sorts

This is actually a collection of Peter Roebuck’s writings, most of which were published in The Sydney Morning Herald. Although this gives a sense of immediacy, it sometimes makes it hard to follow certain pieces. Especially those describing an innings in progress, as the state of the game and in some instances even the opposition are unknown to the reader.

Peter Roebuck tries to overcome this problem somewhat by giving a brief overview at the start of each category. In fact, I found some of the most interesting reading in the book to be contained in these brief introductions – although I am not sure I agree with all of his statements, for example: “Soccer is part of globalisation. Ultimately, the game will dominate everywhere except on the Indian subcontinent”.

The book is loosely split into different groupings such as Arrivals, Reputations, Retirements and so on. Some of the cricketers described by Roebuck never fulfilled their early promise while some of them went on to be legends of the game. The early description of a 17-year-old Ricky Ponting is particularly interesting with Roebuck describing him as a ‘young man in a hurry’.

The part I enjoyed most was Roebuck’s descriptions of the players who almost made it to the elite level, and the heartache and feelings of worthlessness that enveloped most of them after they realised they were never going to make the grade. His pieces on Ben Hollioake and a young Australian by the name of Corey Doyle who Roebuck knew and whom committed suicide stand out in particular.

All the recent greats are here including Tendulkar, Border, Lara, Warne, Murali, the Waugh brothers, and many others, but I actually preferred his pieces on the lesser lights of this, the greatest game.

One small criticism is the total lack of photos. I have noticed in all of Roebuck’s books that he never seems to include a photo of himself. To tell the truth, I don’t think I would know him if I ran into him.

This is Peter Roebuck’s second cricket book of 2005. His first was his much-acclaimed autobiography Sometimes I Forgot to Laugh which is a very different offering from his latest work, but still well worth a read. Roebuck seems to be one of those writers/commentators that people either love or hate although I must admit I have been a huge fan, ever since I read his cerebral cricket diary It Never Rains…

Peter Roebuck, like David Foot – the author of Harold Gimblett Tormented Genius seems much more interested in the man that is the cricketer rather than performances or statistics. This, I think, always lifts cricket writing from mere reporting to literature.

So if you like your writing to be thought-provoking as well as informative then I can strongly recommend It Takes All Sorts.

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