Maynard trust to help youngsters
Matthew Maynard has spoken of his pride in his son, Tom, and the hope that a trust set up in his memory may help disadvantaged young cricketers enjoy more opportunities to play the sport.
Tom Maynard, the Glamorgan, Surrey and England Lions batsman who was tipped for a bright future in international cricket, died in June. He was 23. In his first interview since Tom's death, his father, Matthew, the former Glamorgan and England batsman, thanked those who had supported the family in recent weeks and expressed his pride in the "lovely lad" and "great bloke" who had left them so prematurely.
Matthew Maynard will be among those participating in a sponsored bike ride between Cardiff and The Oval on Tuesday in order to launch The Tom Maynard Trust. Former England cricketers Andrew Flintoff and Steve James will also take part alongside Surrey chairman Richard Thompson, with the group scheduled to arrive at The Oval shortly before the start of the CB40 fixture between the two clubs that Tom represented, Surrey and Glamorgan.
"Hopefully in the future we'll be able to look back with a smile on our face rather than a tear in our eye," Maynard told the BBC. "The amount of letters that we've had shows how he turned out as a really great bloke. There can be nothing more rewarding for a parent knowing that your lad's turned out like you hoped them to.
"His cricket was going in the right direction but that for us is going by the by. It's more him as a man. We are just so proud of how he turned out, how he was as a player, how he was as a person. And we always will be. What has made us so proud is how he was to people. That has come across very apparently in the letters. At the moment, they're making us cry. Hopefully in time they'll make us smile."
Matthew Maynard drew on an emotional memory to exemplify Tom's easy-going nature and benevolent spirit. Returning to Cardiff in April 2011, months after he and his father left the club in acrimonious circumstances, Tom, who was booed to the wicket, scored his maiden first-class century. But instead of taking the opportunity to settle scores, Tom simply thanked his family for their support.
"He was just a lovely character," Matthew said. "He never got above his station. Even after success. When he scored that century against Glamorgan last year, the whole family were down at the stadium. It had obviously been a traumatic time for us all, but he just quietly acknowledged the applause. He didn't do anything to upset any of the Glamorgan members or committee or management. He had moved on from that. It was one of his cooler celebrations. He didn't want to upset people.
"He just had that wonderful way about him, I suppose. If I'd been in his shoes, I'd have gone a bit crazy, but he had his mother's cooler nature."
Maynard also explained how the out-pouring of grief and support that his family had received since Tom's death had inspired the foundation of the Trust. "The idea was mooted fairly early on but we weren't really in a position to sanction at that stage," Maynard said. "Reading the letters that have come through, people had said how much Tom had helped their child, it kind of made us re-think, I guess. It's something we believe he would want us to do and it's had incredible support so far.
"It shows how highly Tom was regarded in cricket circles and outside as well. He seemed to have the ability to touch people he had just met. It wouldn't have been possible without the incredible support of Surrey County Cricket Club.
"I'll do my best to finish the bike ride because Tom was never a quitter and he'd hate to think his old man would quit on something. Whether I've had enough time to get the miles in I'm not sure, but I'm going to give it my best."
It was clear that Maynard and his family are still struggling to deal with the enormity of their loss, however. "I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Maynard said. "It's not just the two months now, it's always going to be with us. How we react in future and how we go about it no-one knows. That's going to be the tough thing. There's very much an empty feeling in the whole family at the moment. We're just trying to be as supportive to each other we can be and to take it a day at a time. It's not been easy.
"We just wanted to have an opportunity to thank everyone who's supported us and reiterate really how proud we are with our lovely lad. That will always be the case."
More details of the Trust can be found at: www.tommaynardtrust.com
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo