David Thomas, the left-arm all-rounder who flirted with an England place and helped Surrey to the 1982 NatWest Trophy, has died aged 53.
Thomas, Warwickshire born but a Surrey player from his debut in 1977 to 1987, was a hard-hitting lower-order batsman and a left-arm bowler capable of sharp pace and swing. Had he not been a contemporary of Ian Botham, had illness not intervened, or had he been born in the Twenty20 age, Thomas might well have gone on to enjoy a distinguished international career but, never one to allow consistency to compromise the obvious joie de vivre with which he played his cricket, it was not to be.
Known universally as 'Teddy' on account of the slicked, Teddy-boy style hairstyle he had in his early days, Thomas became an increasingly important part of the Surrey teams that contested four Lord's finals between 1979 and 1982. The first three of ended in defeat, but they finally beat Warwickshire in the 1982 final with Thomas winning the Man-of-the-Match award for his spell of 3 for 26, which included the key wickets of Dennis Amiss and Geoff Humpage, dismissed for ducks.
He claimed 57 first-class wickets in 1983 and 60 in 1984 but, despite being named in England Test squads, he never made it into the final 11 - he was 12th man for the 1983 Trent Bridge Test against New Zealand - and left Surrey for Gloucestershire at the end of 1987. It was there, after seeking treatment for the recurrence of a groin injury, that he was diagnosed with the Multiple Sclerosis that plagued him for the rest of his life and forced his retirement from the professional game aged just 29. He also enjoyed spells with Natal and Northern Transvaal.
"The passing of David 'Teddy' Thomas is deeply sad to all who had the pleasure to have played with him or against him, to all of the cricket lovers who watched him bat and bowl with such pride, passion and talent and all those supporters who have enjoyed his company and endless stories over a beer at the close of play at the many bars he graced up and down the country over the years," Andy Brassington, a former team-mate at Gloucestershire said.
"It speaks volumes about the character of Teddy that while suffering from this terrible illness he spent endless time raising funds and awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis charity and all with a smile on his face.
"On behalf of all your former colleagues and friends at Gloucestershire thanks 'Teddy' for all the fun and laughter we shared together, you will be greatly missed by all of your family at Gloucestershire, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."
Surrey's players wore black armbands on the third day of their County Championship match against Warwickshire as a mark of respect to Thomas. He leaves a wife, Louise, and four children.