My interest in cricket led me, for many years, to listen to Peter Roebuck broadcasting
cricket matches, and to find cricketing articles on his homepage. Also, on his homepage
were articles written by his website editor, Callum Twomey. Though there were two
authors, their articles were in agreement, as one would expect them to be.
I was particularly interested in what was put on the website about the 2008 Australia
versus India test match at the SCG. On day one of the match, the first article
appeared: Callum Twomey uploaded his "Ponting graduates to top of the class."
Peter Roebuck's then uploaded his articles, virtually one each day, his last being
"Time to sack Ponting."
I was shocked to read this last item as it was out of character with the others,
none of which was negative to Ricky Ponting. I could hardly believe what I was
reading. It was the opposite of what I expected Peter Roebuck to be
writing and had gotten used to over the years.
A few other visitors to the website, apparently as flabbergasted as I was,
commented online. But then, in a very short time, Peter Roebuck's website
disappeared from the Internet.
Ponting — did the truth lie on Roebuck's homepage?
On the 2nd January 2008, Callum Twomey who was Peter Roebuck's website editor, uploaded
an article to Roebuck's homepage that he (Twomey) had written in praise of Ricky Ponting.
It was entitled "Ponting graduates to top of the class."
That same day, the Australia versus India test match began at the SCG. Australia won that
match in spectacular style when Michael Clarke took the last three wickets in five balls.
That win brought up Australia's 16th win in a row, but their 20th win since their last
On the 8th January, two days after the test match, Peter Roebuck, a cricket expert and
columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote
Arrogant Ponting must be fired. He added the same article to his website
but under the title "Time to sack Ponting."
Roebuck's and Twomey's articles, diametrically opposed, appeared on Roebuck's homepage:
Some who had read both drew attention to this conflict and commented on the Internet, but
before more readers could read and compare them, Peter Roebuck's website had vanished!
- "Time to sack Ponting."
- "Ponting graduates to top of the class."
Roebuck was made aware of the clash of opinions. (By the way, if I had known his phone
number I would have told him). Presumably, he sought an instant solution. He could not
delete his article from the newspapers, and so resorted to the obvious: he deleted his
website from the Internet. Those who had read Twomey's article might remember vaguely
what he had written but now nothing could be recalled with exactitude.
If Callum Twomey has a copy of his article, he could not prove it was ever on Peter
Roebuck's homepage, or even that it had been written before the website's closure.
He could do nothing about it – it was gone, forever.
Some weeks later, Peter Roebuck's website resurfaced on the Internet, but without
"Ponting graduates to top of the class." and without "Time to sack Ponting"
and cricket hardly noted.
It seems evident Twomey "Ponting graduates to top of the class." existed on
Roebuck's homepage without Roebuck's knowledge. That is understandable. Twomey, being
the website editor, perhaps knew how to run the website more effectively than Roebuck,
enabling him to keep the website up-to-date as Roebuck would have wished and with a free
hand to do so without the need to contact Roebuck for approval. In fact, Twomey, during
his normal maintenance of Roebuck's homepage, wrote several articles and set them alongside
the many dozens of Roebuck's articles and their titles listed on the homepage menu.
Callum Twomey's "Ponting graduates to top of the class." was ever only mentioned
in a couple of places on the Internet. One was
berserk blogger who commented:
I find it difficult to accept that Peter Roebuck would allow someone with a view so
different from his to publish it on his website, right under his nose.
Twomey never put anything on Roebuck's homepage that was the opposite
or different from Roebuck's view. Likely Roebuck and Twomey were pretty much in
agreement in their cricketing opinions, such that if Twomey put anything on the
website it was with the complete agreement of Roebuck and, in effect, also be
expressing Roebuck's opinion.
Consider the likely opinion each held of Ponting. Ponting had had a remarkable
succession of wins and one can imagine Roebuck and Twomey discussed Ponting and what
he had done in relation to the Australian team for the last few years. It is hard
to imagine they would have diametrically opposite views as to Ponting's place in
Australian cricket. In other words, Roebuck likely had the self-same opinion of
Ponting as had Twomey. Twomey's "Ponting graduates to top of the class."
would have complied precisely with Roebuck's viewpoint or, to put it the other way
around, Roebuck would have agreed with Twomey, if he had read the
article! Why, then, did Roebuck write an article that disagreed with Twomey and,
in effect, seemed to disagree with his own view? Sounds weird! Here's what we find:
There were controversial things about the test match, such as poor umpiring, that
irritated Roebuck and not surprisingly he wrote about them. His "Rotten match
from start to finish." appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday,
7th January, the day after the test match. He barely mentioned Ponting and nothing
in the least derogatory:
- Twomey lavish in his esteem.
- Roebuck savage in his contempt.
Next day, the 8th January, The headlines read "Arrogant Ponting must be fired."
This savagely attacked Ponting in particular and the Australian team in general.
It was a complete contrast to yesterday's report that was typical of several other
cricket writers' reports.
- Ricky Ponting had set a stiff target ...
- By now Ponting had thrown the ball to his spinners ...
- Ponting's street fighter instincts have emerged in this contest ...
- Ponting's team is developing an unwanted reputation for being headstrong and precious.
Why didn't Roebuck publish his Ponting denunciation on the Monday instead of his
comparatively mild appraisal of the test match? From the extent of the article, one
would think his annoyance with Ponting would have been growing for many months,
not just the last few days, that by the end of the test match on Sunday had risen
to contempt. Despite what was in his mind, he wrote nothing negative about Ponting
on Monday the 7th, but on Tuesday the 8th, lashed out ferociously and demanded he
be fired. It doesn't make sense that he didn't publish his anti-Ponting diatribe
as soon as possible, so why not on Monday the 7th?
Answer: Roebuck's "Arrogant Ponting must be fired" was a fiction. His web
version of it was, therefore, also a fiction. It was a complete contrast to all
of the other articles, both Roebuck's and Twomey's, on the website. There ain't
nuthin' else like it. Why did he write it? Who knows?
"Ponting graduates to top of the class" held the facts in which Roebuck
truly believed but he was unaware of its existence on his website, and its
capacity to expose his phony baloney.
Roebuck uploaded "Time to sack Ponting" to his website on Tuesday the
8th January. It was the 6th article he had added since the start of the test
match. Twomey had put "Ponting graduates to top of the class." on the
website, on the 2nd January, when the test match started. Roebuck must have
been unaware of Twomey's article, else would not have uploaded "Time to sack
Ponting". Here is a list of pages added since the start of the test match:
"Time to sack Ponting" was the last page added. The website was scrapped
very shortly after. Had Roebuck known Twomey's article existed on his website he
surely would not have published his newspaper article. The present links are to
articles on a website dedicated
to the memory of Peter Roebuck.
Jim Maxwell in his autobiographic "The Sound of Summer" comments:
What can the public, and particularly we who love the game of cricket, make of this?
... Peter and I were great mates. ... I knew there were unknowns with Pete,
but maybe there were bits I didn't have a clue about. ... Sometimes he would get
his teeth a bit too close to the bone or get too excited, and sometimes we would
say 'wait and see what happens in the game, don't go too early', but he would get
a bee in his bonnet and usually couldn't be stopped. The time he called for Ricky
Ponting's sacking after the so-called Monkey Gate test was a perfect example.