My short encounters with Peter Roebuck and Haroon Lorgat in Colombo
Posted on November 28th, 2011

By Senaka Weeraratna

 I wish to place on record my two short meetings with Mr. Peter Roebuck at the SSC Grounds (Sept. 18 -20, 2011) and subsequent meeting with Mr. Haroon Lorgat on Sept. 20, 2011 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 It happened in the last three days of the Third and Final Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia played at the SSC Grounds in Colombo (Sept. 18 – 20, 2011).

 I was very keen to use this last opportunity before the Australian cricket team and the accompanying journalists left the country at the end of the match, to acquaint the visiting officials and journalists with sets of papers documenting my contribution to the making of the UDRS, and in particular the player referral component which is the lynch – pin of the UDRS.

 I had made 15 spiral bound Volumes with a nice blue cover containing my papers i.e. correspondence with ICC, Sri Lanka Cricket, and newspaper cuttings of my publications in chronological order from the day of first publication in the ‘ Australian’ newspaper on March 25, 1997.

 On Sunday September 18, 2011 being the third day of the Test match I visited the SSC grounds in the mid – afternoon hoping to meet some of the well known Australian Journalists. At the end of the day’s play I was fortunate in meeting Peter Roebuck when he had come out of the building set aside for the Media and was crossing the Road to catch a tri-wheeler. I signalled him to stop and asked him whether he was Peter Roebuck, as I was not certain whether he was the well known cricket journalist. He said ‘yes’. He was tall and slim and was wearing a light brown hat. He was in casual clothes.

 I introduced myself by name and said that I was claiming authorship of the main components of the UDRS and that I had written evidence in terms of publications in key parts of the cricket world to substantiate my claim. I asked Peter Roebuck whether I could hand over a copy of one of the Volumes I had with me for his reading and reference. He said ‘yes’ and accepted one of the Volumes.

 I made it a point to tell him that though much had been written on the UDRS (now called ‘ DRS’) there has been hardly any thing written on the origins of the concept underlying the UDRS. He nodded his head in agreement.

 In answer to my question he said that he was staying at the Galle Face Hotel and added that he will certainly read the contents of the set of papers I had handed over to him and will get in touch with me. He then got inside a Tri – Wheeler and left.

 That was my first encounter with Peter Roebuck.

 I again met Peter Roebuck at the end of the match (end of the fifth day’s play) at the SSC grounds. The few visiting Journalists mostly from Australia usually wait close to the Pavillion to talk to the players once play concludes for the day.

 By this time I had distributed a fair few of the Volumes that I was carrying with me. I was pleased that I was able to hand over my sets of papers to the following persons in the last three days of the match:

 1) Umpire Aleem Dar (Pakistan)

2) Peter Roebuck (Sydney Morning Herald)

3) Malcolm Conn ( Morning Herald)

4) Chris Barret ( Sydney Morning Herald)

5) Neville Turner (Former Senior Law Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University and cricket enthusiast)

6) Lawrence (President, Australian Cricket Association)

7) Charn Sharma (Indian Commentator for Channel 10)

8) Kumar Sangakkara

9) Mahela Jayawardena

10) Saadi Thawfeek

11) Roshan Abeysinghe ( Cricket Journalist)

12) Daniel Brettig (ESPN Cricinfo)

13) Tony Hill ( Cricket Umpire – met him at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel)

 When I met Peter Roebuck at the end of the match on the SSC grounds he was with Jim Maxwell ( ABC Cricket Commentator – a relatively short person in height, blond haired and older looking) and a few other Journalists. Jim Maxwell specifically told me that I should retain a Patent Attorney. I said that I had already retained lawyers. He appeared to know something of my claims for him to make that remark.

 Tony Greig, a few days previously told me over the phone that the entire visiting Australian contingent, including both Cricketers, Officials and Journalists were all aware of my situation and my claims having read the recent article in the ‘ Daily Mirror’ on August 30, 2011 under the title ‘ Sri Lankan Lawyer to take on ICC’ written by the Indian Journalist, Bipin Dani. Tong Greig further said that there was almost practically no one in that Australian contingent who did not know this story given the recent publicity surrounding it.

 Tom Moody told me that he had spent hours discussing my claims with Tony Greig in the past. Neither Tony Greig nor Tom Moody were interested in receiving a copy of my Volume, after I had met them when they were about to leave the grounds at the end of the day’s play (3rd day’s play)

 Coming back to the scene at the SSC grounds at the end of the match I found several Australian Journalists were interviewing the Australian players i.e. Michael Clark, Rickey Ponting.

 But I did not see Peter Roebuck speaking to any player, though he was in the vicinity.

 When Peter Roebuck saw me he made it a point to speak to me and said that he had discussed my claims with Saadi Thawfeek (the well known Cricket Journalist now working for the ‘Nation’ newspaper) and added that he needed more time to complete reading my papers. The general understanding was that he will write something on my claims in a manner similar to what Rob Steen had done in the ESPN Cricinfo website in an article on UDRS and its origins.

 Saadi Thawfeek subsequently confirmed that Peter Roebuck had spoken to him during the match in respect to the claims that I was making and perhaps wanted some background information of me.

 The article that I was expecting to read under the name of Peter Roebuck on the origin and true authorship of the UDRS did not appear.

 But I believe that Peter Roebuck was waiting for the right moment to do so.

 Given his keen sense of Justice and scholarly legal training at Cambridge University where he had obtained a First Class in law, I was confident that Peter Roebuck would give a fair consideration to my claims and write accordingly, without being dismissive as several others have done.

 At the end of the match ( Third Test between Sri Lanka and Australia) on September 20, 2011, I visited the Cinnamon Grand Hotel after leaving the SSC Grounds hoping to hand over the last remaining Volume containing my writings to Chris Broad (English match referee). I did not meet him.

 However I accidently met Mr. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC CEO, in the foyer of the Hotel at about 6.45 p.m.

 I introduced myself and offered the copy of the Volume I had with me to Mr. Lorgat for his information and reference.

 He refused to accept it on the ground that there was a claim against the ICC.

 I pleaded with Mr. Lorgat to accept my papers, as this was precisely the purpose I was trying to hand over a fuller set of papers to the Chief Executive of the ICC, in furtherance of the pressing of my claims with the ICC.

 I said that I had not instituted legal proceedings nor sent a letter of demand via a lawyer to the ICC so far.

 There was still time for exchange of documents and presentation of my views. His refusal to accept my documents however unworthy they may be from his point of view was nevertheless unethical and in flagrant breach of his duties as a CEO and contravention of protocol of a noted international institution which had Sri Lanka Cricket as an affiliated member. He was duty bound to accept documents containing claims and give a fair hearing to a serious contender for recognition of his authorship of the UDRS. I had a legitimate expectation of being heard to the fullest by the ICC.

 The Principles of Natural Justice and more importantly the Spirit of Cricket require Cricket administrators not only to act fairly but also to be seen to be acting fairly. Mr. Lorgat fell short of this all important test of administrative fairness.

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