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