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Tom Maynard 1989-2012

A special talent starting to blossom

The start to his career had not always been easy, but Tom Maynard's development hinted at a future at the top level

George Dobell

June 18, 2012

Comments: 13 | Text size: A | A

Tom Maynard top-scored for Surrey with an unbeaten 86, Surrey v Sussex, County Championship, London, The Oval, 1st day, March 5, 2012
Tom Maynard's move to Surrey had brought consistency to his game and the promise of a bright future © Associated Press
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Sometimes it is in the most emotional moments that a man's character is most apparent. Returning to Cardiff in April 2011, just months after he and his father, the former England and Glamorgan batsman Matthew, had departed under acrimonious circumstances, Tom Maynard recorded his maiden first-class century.

While some may have taken the opportunity to settle scores, Tom Maynard took the chance to praise his family and build bridges. "I'd like to dedicate that innings towards the family rather than anything malicious towards the management," he said. For a 22-year-old bristling with emotion and pride, it was a remarkably gracious reaction. It was telling, too, that even in the aftermath of Maynard's departure, no one at Glamorgan uttered a negative word about him. He had handled an impossible situation perfectly: with honesty, loyalty, firmness and restraint. In a situation from which few emerged with credit, Tom Maynard shone.

Maynard was, no doubt, as flawed and confused as any young man finding his way in the world. Only fools and obituary writers look for perfection. But he also had bountiful positive qualities, and as that innings and his reaction afterwards showed, innate class on and off the pitch. His loss casts a long shadow over English and Welsh cricket.

Tom Maynard, who has died aged 23, was born to play cricket. Steeped in the game from birth, just nine months after his father's Test debut, he used to accompany his dad into the Glamorgan dressing room from his early years, and progressed smoothly through the club's youth system to earn his place in that same dressing room through talent. He attended Millfield School, played county 2nd XI cricket at 16, first-class cricket at 18, and on List A debut, thumped a run-a-ball 71 against Gloucestershire. He hit the ball hard, cutting and pulling with the same panache as his father, but was perhaps blessed with an even better ability to play straight. He was brilliant in the field.

His progress was not always as smooth - he averaged just 19.16 in first-class cricket in 2009 and 27.50 in 2010 - and struggled, initially at least, in alien conditions on last winter's England Lions tour to Bangladesh.

But having left Glamorgan for Surrey at the end of 2010, when his father's position as coach was rendered untenable after the club management imposed a new captain against his will, he began to add consistency to his undoubted flair. It was no coincidence that Surrey won County Championship promotion and the CB40 title in his first season. Like a seed transplanted from rocky ground to rich, he soon excelled on the better pitches and in a high-achieving environment. His final first-class average - just 32.65 - may look modest on the surface, but it is surely relevant that his first-class average for Surrey - 42.48 - was almost double that for Glamorgan - 21.38. This season, on testing pitches and against Division One attacks, he increasingly displayed the calm shot selection and the calculated aggression of a special talent. His was a life and a career just about to flower.

Maynard passed 1000 first-class runs for the first time in 2011, scoring a match-winning century in the final Championship match to help his side secure promotion. He was also the club's leading scorer in T20, with 392 runs at a lofty average of 43.55 (only two men had higher averages in the country) and he replaced Mark Rampakash in the Surrey one-day side. He flourished in all three formats of the game.

His future would, no doubt, have been filled with the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments that make up any life. Young people do not come with guarantees, but Maynard had everything it takes - the talent, the temperament, the technique and the environment - to have played for England with distinction for many years. It seemed he had a golden future.

It was not to be. While the details of Maynard's death remain unclear, it may prove, in time, that the tragic circumstances of the final chapter in his life and the somewhat prurient reaction to it in some circles, reflect more on our society than they do on the deceased. A 23-year-old man may want for many things; hope should never be one of them.

The cricket community is not large and the pain of this loss will be felt widely. Not just at Surrey and Glamorgan but in the England set-up and beyond. The tragedy seems all the more acute for the contrast with Maynard's obvious vitality: his youth; his potential as a sportsman and a man. Put simply, he seemed so full of life. So full of potential.

Some in the dressing room at the time felt that the shock and grief of Ben Hollioake's death in 2002 was a huge contributory factor in Surrey's subsequent struggles. It was not spoken about publicly for fear that cynics might presume it was being used as an excuse. But the Surrey and Glamorgan dressing rooms of 2012 will also struggle for equilibrium. They will want the world to stop for a while. They have lost a team-mate and a friend.

More importantly, a family has lost a son. You don't need a weatherman to tell you, this has been a bitterly harsh summer.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 20:25 GMT)

In 2003 I had the opportunity of watching my son play for King's College Taunton against Millfield School and even then Tom looked the part. Truly a sad end to a promising life and career. RIP.

Posted by HumungousFungus on (June 19, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

I remember seeing Tom as a child frequently running around the outfield at Glamorgan games with his father Matthew. From his father he had inherited the effortless timing and power of stroke, the speed and certainty in the outfield, and the bazooka of a throwing arm. Even the way they ran their runs at the crease was identical. Matthew Maynard, for me, was the most naturally talented English batsman I have ever seen, and I can remember innings he played for Glamorgan that even outshone Sir IVA Richards, albeit in the twilight of Viv's legendary career. I can think of no higher praise for Tom than to say that he may well have been as good or even better than his father in time, and it is a tragedy that, just over ten years after the death of Ben Hollioake, English cricket is once again mourning the far too early passing of one of its brightest stars. RIP Tom.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 10:43 GMT)

My heart is really really saddened by this untimely loss.. He would have definitely made it BIG in the England team no doubt. But alas..

My heart goes to his dad, mom and siblings.

RIP Tom *Tears*

Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 10:11 GMT)

An excellent and very moving piece. An extremely sad loss for Tom's family, friends and the cricket community at large. There is much being said of Tom's life this morning but there is also much not being said about his absolutely senseless and totally unexplained death. We see this time and time again when there is such a tragic and sudden loss of a much loved and admired public figure. There are too many unanswered questions. Those who have the answers should have the courage, decency and humanity to answer them as honestly and as quickly as possible.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

A marvelous obituary for a life cut tragically short. Thoughts and prayers with the family.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

RIP Tom! Lost a talented cricketer! If he was alive now, he could be in the reconing of KP's position in the team. A hard-hitting batsman at no. 4, he would be perfact for england. I feels it is a loss for English team more than surrey because they have KP back. God may give streangth to his parents in such a sad moment!

Posted by jackiethepen on (June 19, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

This is a fine piece of writing. It is hard to see how it can be bettered as a tribute to Tom Maynard. It is obviously written from the heart but that doesn't necessarily mean that the writing will touch us and be so elevated. George Dobell has found the words to eloquently express the inescapable sadness of the death of a talented young player at the very gates of his future. Hope may not have been what was lacking, but just the maturity that is out of reach of a 23-year-old. A terrible misadventure has robbed his family, Surrey and cricket, of a young man with all to live for.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

Very sad indeed. RIP and thoughts with his family at this time.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (June 18, 2012, 22:48 GMT)

A very elevated and moving piece of writing. It is a great pity it is one written on such an occasion, but it is not the first time nor will it be the last that this has happened.

Posted by   on (June 18, 2012, 22:46 GMT)

Sad to hear of Tom's untimely death. I'm about the same age as his dad.... I can't imagine how horrible it would be to lose one of my daughters. RIP, Tom, and my thoughts and prayers are with your family tonight.

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