Cape Town, Nov 14: Former Somerset captain and renowned cricket writer and broadcaster Peter Roebuck committed suicide at a hotel in South Africa on Saturday soon after reportedly being questioned by police.
A report by the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the newspapers Roebuck wrote for, said he had been questioned at his hotel at about 9pm on Saturday night by a uniformed police officer and a detective over an alleged sexual assault.
The newspaper said Roebuck was in an agitated state and suggested one of the police officers was still in his room when Roebuck jumped to his death.
Police would not comment on any of those details.
He was 55.
The former opening batsman turned journalist is believed to have jumped to his death from the sixth floor of his hotel in Cape Town, where he was covering the Test series between South Africa and Australia.
Police said he was found dead outside his room at his hotel, minutes from Newlands cricket ground where South Africa beat Australia by eight wickets in the first Test on Friday.
South African police released a statement on Sunday confirming Roebuck had taken his own life on Saturday night, while Australia's cricket body said Roebuck had been with the Australian team just hours before his death.
Police spokesman Capt. Frederick van Wyk said it was suicide but would not give further details on the nature of the death and could not elaborate on reports that Roebuck had been questioned by police at the hotel earlier in the evening.
“I can confirm that an incident took place at about 21:15 last night where a 55-year-old British national who worked as an Australian commentator committed suicide,” Van Wyk said.
“The circumstances around the death are being investigated and an inquest docket has been opened.”
Roebuck, a former opening batsman who captained the famous 1980s Somerset side that included Ian Botham and West Indies great Viv Richards, wrote widely for the Australian press and also worked as a radio commentator for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Educated at Cambridge, Roebuck was known as an incisive writer and analyst, but also had a reputation as a complex character and was closely involved in the dressing room problems at Somerset that led to the exits of Richards, Joel Garner and, eventually, Botham.
He played 335 first-class matches between 1974-91 and was considered unlucky to never play for England, although he once captained an England “A” team.
He was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1988, but later became more famous as a journalist and broadcaster. After ending his playing career, he moved to Australia but also spent much of his time in South Africa.
In 2001, Roebuck pleaded guilty at a court in England of three charges of common assault involving three 19-year-old South African men who had been staying with him. He was given a suspended jail sentence of four months for each charge.
Australia's cricket body offered its condolences to Roebuck's family and said it was shocked to hear of his death.
“Peter was a familiar face around Australian cricket who had been with the team only hours before his sudden death,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said. “He bought particular insight to his commentary based on his lengthy experience as a first-class cricketer and captain, and combined that with a singular flair for the written and spoken word.
“He spoke his mind frankly and while one didn't necessarily always have to agree, you always respected what he had to say.”
Cricket South Africa also offered its condolences and said it had lost “a good friend.”
Roebuck had been a harsh critic of South African cricket during the apartheid era, but had become one of the country's “best supporters” since, CSA said.
“He was a fiercely independent critic but one who always endeavoured to serve the best interests of cricket and he set a new standard for cricket columnists around the world,” CSA chief executive Gerald Majola said. “We will all miss his contribution to the game.”