Former All Black star Grahame Thorne is among those mourning the death by suicide of leading cricket writer Peter Roebuck.
Thorne says he was in regular email correspondence with Roebuck since about the time he shifted to Gibbston, near Queenstown, three years ago.
Uncannily, he says he sent his last email, early last Sunday morning, about the time Roebuck committed suicide in Cape Town, South Africa – Roebuck had been reporting on the host country’s spectacular Test cricket win over Australia.
Thorne: “In the last column he wrote he went through the Australian cricket team as to what their weaknesses were – I said to him, ‘I really enjoyed your article on batting but I can’t see you invited to the nets in Johannesburg by the Australian team.”
Roebuck, in his last email to Thorne last week, made light of Australia just having surpassed New Zealand’s world record lowest Test score when they were rolled for only 47 in Cape Town: “Bad luck, Thorney, they beat 26.”
Thorne says he outlined his connection with South Africa, where he formerly lived, and with cricket, in his first email to Roebuck.
Though they never met, Thorne says they would sometimes email each other daily during cricket Tests.
“He was one of those guys, whenever he wrote to you, it wasn’t frivolous, it was always well thought out, he never took the piss, it was always serious stuff, but it always made sense.
“He had a house in Pietermaritzburg [in South Africa], and my [late] son went to school in Pietermaritzburg, so we had a bit in common there.”
Thorne calls his email mate’s death “tragic”.